By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
Los Angeles Fire Department is investigating the cause of a fire that broke out on the first floor of a two-story shopping center in the Highlands on Thursday night, April 22.
Crews responded at 10:28 p.m. to the fire, which spread to businesses on the second floor of the complex and burned for 41 minutes before being extinguished, according to LAFD Spokesperson Brian Humphrey.
The first arriving 35 LAFD firefighters extinguished the “stubborn” fire from the walls of the first-floor restaurant, Casa Nostra, located at 1515 Palisades Drive near Palisades Circle. A knock down was called at 11:09 p.m.
The fire burned through and damaged offices on the second floor of the complex. Joe Cirillo, general manager of the property, told the Palisadian-Post only one unit faced “significant” fire damage, while a number of units were damaged by smoke, which he explained is “very resolvable.”
Palisadian Adrian Maizey said he was alarmed after waking up to messages saying, “Dude, check your office, I think your office is burning down.”
Maizey’s unit is located above Casa Nostra and received the bulk of the fire damage, he said.
“Everything is basically lost, my memorabilia that was in the office … the fire caused the damage but the smoke caused the most damage,” Maizey said. “Unfortunately, everything is damaged.”
Palisadian Gary Bettman, COO and producer of The Miller Group Marketing, also has an office above the restaurant and described the damage to his unit as “pervasive.”
“It’s smoke damage beyond your wildest perception, I didn’t know how invasive … smoke damage can be,” Bettman said to the Post. “Our office filled up with smoke for over two hours before anybody thought to open a window or door … our artwork is ruined, the chairs … every little thing. Everything that has a surface is messed up big time.
“You come in ready to pitch to a new client and all of a sudden your whole life is turned around.”
Cirillo said all tenants of the property have been cooperative, and the insurance company of the building and the insurance company of the restaurant are involved in resolving damages. He said he is not sure how long it’s going to take, but he that believes the property damage will be resolved and back to normal “hopefully within a short period of time.”
Bettman and Cirillo both praised LAFD’s diligence and quick response to the fire.
Casa Nostra did not respond to requests for comment as the Post went to print on Tuesday.
Monetary loss from the fire is still being tabulated and the cause remains in the category of “under investigation,” according to Humphrey. No injuries were reported.
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