Firefighters battle blaze at Ocean Beach restaurant; police say thief stole firefighter’s bag
OCEAN BEACH — Firefighters battled a blaze Friday night that tore through the roof of the Ocean Beach restaurant Northside Tavern, authorities said.
The building, formerly the home of Mother’s Saloon, which apparently closed due to the pandemic, was initially described by fire officials as an abandoned commercial structure. But a deputy chief later said the restaurant was open for takeout, though it was unclear if Northside Tavern was occupied when the flames erupted.
The fire was reported a few minutes before 9:30 p.m. inside the low-slung building on the corner of Bacon and Lotus streets, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
“Crews observed heavy smoke coming from the (single-story) building when they arrived,” the Fire-Rescue Department said on an incident page.
Deputy Chief Kelly Zombro told OnScene TV it appeared based on preliminary evidence that the flames started in the attic and were primarily contained to the attic and roof area.
Zombro said that while the cause and origin of the blaze remained under investigation, “we have nothing suspicious here; we just have to figure out what happened.”
Just minutes after arriving, the initial crews requested a second wave of firefighters and equipment, according to officials.
“They went to a second alarm very quickly and proactively,” Zombro said. Officials said more than 70 firefighters, medics and other emergency personnel were assigned to the fire, including crews on eight engines and four trucks.
According to emergency radio traffic, fire crews had the flames mostly under control by 10:10 p.m. and were searching the building. Crews were expected to remain at the scene mopping up the fire and ensuring no flare ups overnight into early Saturday morning.
On the restaurant’s Facebook page, a message was posted at 10:45 p.m. that read: “Our first concern was the safety of our staff and neighbors. No (one) was injured, the fire has been contained and we are on standby for our next step forward. Thank you to everyone who has reached out, we appreciate your continued support and will update you as soon as possible.”
San Diego police tweeted that Bacon Street was closed between West Point Loma Boulevard and Voltaire Street, asking vehicles and pedestrians to avoid the area.
San Diego police also tweeted that while fire crews were battling the flames, a man stole a bag from one of the fire engines, making off with more than $1,000 worth of equipment as he rode away on a beach cruiser bicycle.
On Saturday, police thanked the public for sending in several tips and announced on Twitter that a suspect had been identified. Police did not release his name and said the case remained under investigation.