NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. – Two New Rochelle businesses were damaged by a fire that began at about 4:15 a.m. Monday, said New Rochelle Fire Chief Louis DiMeglio.
Firefighters raced to the scene after an automatic alarm sounded at the Ionian Grill and Café on North Avenue; once there, they realized the fire had started in the basement of La Guadalupana Grocery and Meat Market next door.
“The alarm went off from the smoke that was generated from the fire that was in the basement of the store next door,” said DiMeglio.
Putting out the fire took about an hour, DiMeglio said, due to the “hot and smoky” conditions and the difficulty in ventilating the basement. The cause of the fire is unknown, he said.
The chief commended his firefighters, saying, they “did a great job despite the conditions that they had to get to this fire under, and they pretty much saved the building and the businesses.”
Both businesses sustained smoke damage, and La Guadalupana suffered fire damage as well. Con Edison shut off the gas and electricity to both establishments.
Polly Katechis, who owns the Ionian with her husband, was at her restaurant Monday, overlooking the damage and repair work. She was not pleased that she had to shut down because of the fire, but was hopeful she would be open for business Thursday.
“I’m praying because I’ve got a rent to pay,” said Katechis. “We’re lucky we had the alarm because if we didn’t have the alarm, the entire block would have gone down.”
Katechis was thankful the damage to her eight-month-old restaurant was not worse.
“I wouldn’t want to see it happen to anyone, ever,” she said. “Thank God we didn’t have fire come into the store. It was just smoke.”