EDMONTON – Daylight reveals the extent of the damage caused by an overnight fire at the Italian Bakery in east Edmonton.
Crews were called to the scene at 11:19 p.m. Saturday night and by midnight the fire had escalated to a two alarm blaze. At one point, there were as many as 30 firefighters on scene.
The Italian Bakery is a staple in Edmonton. Antonio and Aurora Frattin opened the first location on 97 Street in 1960. This second location opened 25 years later. Their son, Renato Frattin, says the family is devastated.
“This is our family business. This is the only job we’ve ever had. This is the only thing we know and this is where we come every day. This is what we do,” Frattin said.
Frattin arrived on scene shortly after the fired started. He was in shock.
“I don’t know how to explain it. Just numb,” he exclaimed.
Fire officials say the fire had to be attacked externally because the roof collapsed on the building. No one was in the building at the time and there are no reports of injuries.
Nearby 118 Avenue was blocked off for several hours while crews brought the blaze under control. Some nearby residents were evacuated as a precaution. The fire was under control by 4:16 a.m. and completely extinguished shortly after 8 a.m. Sunday morning.
Frattin says the 97 St. location is not large enough to accommodate all the baking.
“This location is like the beating heart,” said Frattin. “And I say that because we make all the bread from this location. We can’t do the production in our other locations. We’re just in limbo right now. We don’t have a plan as of right now.”
The Italian Bakery employs around 20 staff and provides product for more than 300 wholesale customers and services in the community. Throughout the day on Sunday nearby residents came by to see the damage.
“I really, really hope they rebuild. I really do,” said Marjorie Marshall. “It’s a fixture of our neighbourhood.”
Fire investigators were on scene Sunday morning but a cause has not been determined. Insurance adjusters were also assessing the damage.
“They’re saying it may have to come down,” said Frattin. “They don’t know how brittle the walls are now.”
Frattin’s parents are vacationing in Mexico right now, though he expects they will cut their holiday short.
“I Facetimed with mom and ya, she was just in tears. It’s sad,” he said.
with files from Erin Chalmers