Viva Taqueria open for business after fire evacuates building into frigid cold on Friday night

January 4, 2014

Viva Taqueria is open for business as of lunchtime Saturday, after a late-evening fire in a building wall forced the restaurant and surrounding apartments to evacuate at about 9:40pm Friday night. Fire investigators suspect a discarded cigarette was to blame for the fire.

Ithaca firefighters and police on the scene at a fire at Viva Taqueria on Friday night. 14850 Photo.Ithaca firefighters and police on the scene at a fire at Viva Taqueria on Friday night. 14850 Photo.Employees at Viva Taqueria reported smoke coming from the walls of the eatery at the corner of East State Street and North Aurora Street, and called 911. Arriving emergency responders evacuated the building into the frigid outdoor air, about -12 at the time of the fire, and were able to find and extinguish the fire.

Ithaca Fire Department public information officer Lt. Thomas T. Basher Jr. tells us firefighters were able to use air-pressurized water fire extinguishers to extinguish the small fire smoldering inside the wall that was found when crews removed a portion of the wall and flooring along the East State Street side of the building.

Firefighters stretched hose along Aurora Street from a nearby fire hydrant, but didn't need to use it. The situation was deemed under control in less than thirty minutes, says Basher. Bangs Ambulance stood by in case of any injuries or effects of the extreme cold, but no firefighters, restaurant staff or patrons, or building occupants were injured.

Ithaca Police Department Sgt. Scott N. Garin says IPD officers were on scene in a support mode, helping to evacuate the four-story building and setting up a perimeter in which firefighters could work. A firefighter asked us to remind area residents that drivers should never enter a block in which emergency vehicles with lights flashing are blocking the roadway.

Ithaca Fire Department investigators determined the cause of the fire was accidental, and suspect that an improperly discarded cigarette, still lit, blew into a void space.

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