Investigation continues into ByWard Market fire

Domenic Santaguida's restaurant, Vittoria Trattoria, is no more.

Sanatguida's147-year-old building was burned and filled with smoke for more than 4 hours Friday morning by a fire that investigators believe started on the rooftop. Santaguida was flying home at the time of the fire; he returned to Ottawa by mid-afternoon to see the destruction first-hand.

“I never imagined it to be this scale. I'm just thankful no one got hurt,” said the father of three who had run the Italian restaurant in the ByWard Market for more than 20 years. “We spent more time here than we did at our house.”

Investigators with the Ontario Fire Marshal's (OFM) office combed through the rubble for clues Saturday morning, deploying a drone overhead to capture images of the scene.

Drone used by Ontario Fire Marshal above William Street over Vittoria Trattoria where fire broke out yesterday on the rooftop of the 147 y/o building in the ByWard Market ⁦@ctvottawapic.twitter.com/5x2H7dZAzI

— Mike Arsalides (@MArsalidesCTV) April 13, 2019

“We certainly have narrowed down our area of origin,” said OFM Supervisor Manny Garcia. The building, he said was difficult for crews to approach and attack because of the nature of its construction. “They were not built to the fire code standards of the day, today, obviously and there are inherent difficulties with buildings of that age,” said Garcia.

Those who witnessed the fire remembered helping others get out of the building.

“We went up to the other business to make them realize the seriousness of the fire because the wind was howling.” said Jonathan Silver who worked at nearby restaurant, The Grand.

Investigators inside the building heavily damaged by fire and smoke at 35 William Street in ByWard Market ⁦@ctvottawapic.twitter.com/xjpxLSFPxp

— Mike Arsalides (@MArsalidesCTV) April 13, 2019

More than 20 trucks and 100 fire fighters tried for more than 4 hours to control the smoke and flames using 3 ladders. The fire wasn’t under control in the Market until 3:15pm according to officials on scene.

Cameras captured roofers working with torches at the time on the roof of 35 William Street, later those same workers were seen trying to extinguish the flames.

The building, according to investigators is a heritage site; its roof layered with wood. Much of the building is burned and covered in smoke and debris.

Vowing to rebuild, Santaguida hopes to salvage what he can of the historic building; while ensuring his staff can find work at his other restaurants.

“My biggest concern is for the people and the families of our employees and make sure we have a spot for them, doing our best to find them work.”