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Major fire blazed in downtown Tampa, building partially collapsed

Firefighters say the blaze originated at Szechuan House at 508 N Franklin.
Tampa Fire Rescue responded to 508 N Franklin St. for a report of a fire which required a three alarm fire response to prevent the blaze from spreading to nearby businesses. Firefighters contained the fire but was working to prevent the fire from spreading on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020 in Tampa. [LUIS SANTANA  |  Times]
Tampa Fire Rescue responded to 508 N Franklin St. for a report of a fire which required a three alarm fire response to prevent the blaze from spreading to nearby businesses. Firefighters contained the fire but was working to prevent the fire from spreading on Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020 in Tampa. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Jan. 5
Updated Jan. 6

TAMPA — The morning after flames raged along Franklin Street, a sense of normalcy returned Monday to most of the downtown businesses that had been evacuated the night before.

More than a dozen fire trucks raced to downtown Sunday night to contain a blaze that began at Szechuan House at 508 N Franklin St. The cause of the fire is undetermined, according to an incident report released Monday.

The fire began at about 6 p.m. Sunday in the kitchen area of the restaurant, which was closed at the time, and caused the second floor of the building to collapse, according to Tampa Fire Rescue. The second floor above the restaurant included living quarters.

Two fire fighters sustained minor injuries, according to the incident report.

A thick column of smoke billowed into the air over N Franklin and E Twiggs streets. Nearby businesses include a CVS, Jimmy John’s and Bavaro’s Pizza Napoletana & Pastaria. The block surrounding the restaurant was evacuated between Madison and Twiggs streets and between Franklin Street and Ashley Drive.

Tampa Fire Rescue responded to 508 Franklin Street Sunday for a fire that required a three alarm response. Firefighters contained the fire but were working to prevent it from spreading to nearby businesses. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]

Ally Kroll, manager of Kava Culture, said she saw the flames while driving in to work Sunday. Employees were evacuating the building and people were giving each other rides because their cars had been blocked off.

“It was really sad, but I’m glad no one was hurt,” she said. “Everyone was looking out for each other.”

Lizbeth Rodriguez, a server at Urban Cantina, said she was working Sunday evening when a police officer came by and told them the restaurant needed to be evacuated.

“It was really scary,” she said. “We didn’t know where the smoke was coming from.”

Amanda Benitez, a manager at Vale restaurant, said she got a call from a friend saying there was a fire on her block. “I was freaking out,” she said.

She went online and saw it was not her restaurant.

While the blaze was mostly contained as of 9 p.m. Sunday, firefighters continued working to make sure it was fully under control and checking for further damage, Tampa Fire Rescue spokesman Jason Penny said.

Frankie’s on Franklin and CVS were closed Monday morning. Eddie and Sam’s N.Y. Pizza had signs indicating they would re-open Tuesday, though other businesses on the block had re-opened.

Damage to the restaurant building is estimated at $300,000 and damage to equipment and household items is estimated at $150,000.

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