2 buildings condemned after fire in Pittsburgh’s Market Square
Market Square restaurant owner Sergio Muto had been looking forward to one of the busiest days of the year — Light Up Night, when droves of people fill Downtown Pittsburgh.
Instead of cooking Friday morning, Muto was inside his condemned restaurant, La Gondola Pizzeria, lamenting Thursday’s lunchtime fire at neighboring Winghart’s.
The city’s Fire Investigation Unit is investigating the cause of the blaze. No information about that investigation was released Friday.
One firefighter who responded to the four-alarm fire suffered heat exhaustion and was taken to the hospital as a precaution, but he is OK, Pittsburgh Public Safety spokeswoman Cara Cruz said.
The Winghart’s and La Gondola buildings have been condemned until they’re evaluated by a structural engineer and any repairs deemed necessary are done, Muto said.
It means they will be closed for Light Up Night.
“Every Light Up Night for us, it’s the busiest day of the year,” Muto said. “Thousands and thousands of people that come down here, and they look for good pizza.”
La Gondola has been in business 41 years, and Muto said he’s working to get everything in order so he can reopen soon.
Officials from Winghart’s didn’t return messages seeking comment.
A Subway franchise next to La Gondola was open Friday, although it had been evacuated during the fire, which started about noon Thursday.
When firefighters arrived the blaze was on the second and third floors and roof of the Winghart’s building, Assistant Fire Chief Norman Auvil said.
Firefighters mounted a fast-attack on the blaze and were able to get it under control within an hour, Auvil said.
But Winghart’s suffered heavy smoke and water damage and is expected to be closed for a while, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said.
Inside La Gondola, the stench of a burned building filled the air, although Muto said the damage did not appear to be severe.
There have been several fires in recent years at the buildings that surround Market Square, something Hissrich has attributed to their age. Many of the structures were built in the 1800s.
A 2014 fire, also at Wingart’s, was attributed to heat buildup in a vent. A 2012 fire at the building had a similar cause.
Those fires were less severe than Thursday’s, Muto said.
Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .