Chef Park 'devastated' by fire in restaurants
Published Sunday, November 13, 2016 6:50PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, November 15, 2016 8:00AM EST
A five-alarm fire broke out in a commercial section of Westmount on Sunday evening near the corner of Victoria Ave. and Sherbrooke St.
The fire broke out at 374 Victoria Ave, the address of Lavanderia Restaurant, owned by chef Antonio Park. The building is also home to Park restaurant, also owned by the chef, and multiple other companies including Victoria Park Gym.
“Devastated, shocked,” was how Park described the scene inside his restaurants. “Park and Lavanderia are really my babies. Those two restaurants are really my babies, like from my childhood - my dad's name is on it.”
Park said challenges are ahead.
“Now we have to find solutions. We're cooks and chefs so we always so we always try to find solutions every day for everyone,” he said, adding that he was just relieved no one was hurt.
Park said the Montreal and Westmount communities have been very generous in the hours following the blaze.
“I feel the support, the support has been immense, it's been so much support,” he said. “We're going to come back stronger.”
Other businesses in the area between Sherbrooke and Somerville Ave. also face extensive damage.
“Our whole office is completely destroyed. We have some servers that were saved, but all the desktop computers were destroyed. It's going to take months to get back up to speed,” said Matthew Hodak of Inro Software.
374 Victoria, thats Lavanderia resto, Victoria Park gym and right next door to PARK restaurant.— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) November 14, 2016
I live 9 blocks away, & can smell the fire. https://t.co/Imug4zSsQH
Many firetrucks were deployed to the scene, with firefighters deploying ladders.
More than 100 firefighters battled flames for more than three hours before getting the fire under control.
“It's from the stove from the first floor on the restaurant, and it's a wood-burning stove, and there's a lot of carbon that gets stuck in the chimney, so it would have started there,” said John Primiani of the Montreal fire department.
"During the investigation firefighters noticed the smoke coming from the roof, and the fire was on the roof," added his colleague Robert Dubé.
Katie Pother lives in the area and watched the firefighters at work.
"It was awful. It was something... We couldn't even really talk because we were feeling so awful about what was happening," said Pother.
"It was scary because of not knowing if something could spread."
It took six hours before the fire was extinguished and firefighters left -- only to be called back at 8:30 a.m. and again at 10:30 a.m. on Monday.
“We're just putting a lot a lot of water in there constantly, because it's very large roof, and there are a lot little hiding places,” said Primiani.
Cleaning crews mopping up the water said the fire was not properly put out.
"On the fourth floor you can literally see the sky through the ceiling and there are embers burning all over the place, and so with the wind it just keeps reigniting" said Matthew Dobson of Premier Reaction. "
"One of the managers was up there trying to extinguish it, but somebody must have made that phone call."
He said the clean-up effort will take a while.
“We're here to extract all the water out. The damage is ridiculous. There's a lot of work to be done here in the next few months," said Dobson.
No customers were in the restaurants when the fire started, but several employees were present and they notified the fire department.
Nobody was hurt by the fire.
Despite the incredibly extensive damage, Chef Park is confident he will reopen soon..
Wanted to thank everyone who has expressed concern for our safety, we are all fine & hope to be up & running again soon— Antonio Park (@ChefAntonioPark) November 14, 2016
Daniel Ng works in the building and he does not believe he will be returning to the office anytime soon.
"Our floor wasn't damaged by the actual fire but it's completely drenched with water," said Ng, pointing out his floor is covered in ankle-deep water.
"I think the fire spread throughout the ventilation and then they had to basically soak the floor above us which means all the water came down. All the ceiling tiles are completely destroyed and there's a lot of debris."