SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Shreveport fire and ATF investigators are back on the scene Tuesday of the blaze that tore through the Olive Street Bistro in Shreveport late Monday night. "It's not uncommon for them to come out ATF has been out on residential fires with the Shreveport fire department so it's not uncommon" says Fred Sanders, Assistant to the Fire Chief.
The fire department was called to the Italian restaurant in the 1000 block of Olive Street just after 10 p.m. "From my understanding, there may have been a burglar alarm, but we're uncertain at this time," says Sanders. "We know that we received calls from 911 with flames coming through the roof."
"It's a legacy gone bad is what it really is. It's been around for more than 30 year," says long-time customer Timothy Behan. He and others in the community say the news is hard to swallow. "Olive Street Bistro is one of the first places I came to in Shreveport. It is in fact a real Shreveport institution, it's just really sad," says David Caldwell.
Sanders says firefighters initially tried to attack the fire, but had to back out and take a defensive approach within minutes because the flames were spreading so rapidly.
More than 30 minutes after firefighters arrived, flames could still seen shooting high into the air as firefighters battled the flames from the outside using several pumpers and 2 ladder trucks, trying to keep it from spreading to the apartment building next door.
Less than an hour after the fire started, it was already clear that the damage would be extensive. It took 10 fire companies nearly two hours to get the fire under control. Shreveport fire officials say the building is a total loss. There were no reported injuries.
There is no word yet on a cause. The restaurant was closed Monday and Tuesday, but Sanders says, "that doesn't mean employees may or may not have been within the building, but our investigators are going to finish conducting interviews and determine what happened."
The restaurant manager told fire officials that the business was closed Sunday and Monday, but that he had been there into the late evening preparing for an upcoming event.
Federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives were also spotted on the scene Monday night. While the Shreveport Fire Department has not confirmed their role in the investigation, Certified Fire Investigators with the ATF specialize in fire origin and cause analysis and arson investigations, including arson-for-profit.
They can be called in to assist state and local agencies in investigations involving major fires, particularly those that result in a major loss at a commercial building.
While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, KSLA News 12 has learned that the restaurant has had issues with fire safety in the past. A fire inspection report from October of 2012 reveals that at the time that the kitchen hood system was missing filters, the cooking area didn't have a proper fire extinguisher, and the hood system needed cleaning. A re-inspection was scheduled for November of last year to determine whether management had corrected the findings. We requested that report from the Shreveport Fire Department. But according to Assistant Fire Chief Fred Sanders, they won't release that or any other information until the investigation looking into the fire is completed.