Flames went up Tuesday morning at the old Oregano Italian Kitchen location at 223 W. Center St. in Provo.
The Provo Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the incident as suspicious. Provo Fire and Rescue posted on social media that estimated damages amount to $25,000, and that there was in fact smoke damage in the adjoining businesses.
The neighbors of the location, Joe Vera’s Mexican Restaurant and China Garden Restaurant, both opened at their regular times of 11 a.m. Joe Vera hostess Kenna Pedersen said that the fire indeed occurred at the old Oregano building, which rooftop firefighters worked on.
“Our building does not even smell like smoke,” Pedersen said at 12:22 p.m. Tuesday. “We didn’t have to clear out anything at all. Our building’s totally fine.”
About nine fire trucks were on scene. All roads were reopened by 9 a.m. after the fire was reported at 6:43 a.m. by a person who called after seeing a fire in an alley behind the vacant building, according to the Provo Fire Department. Fire Chief Jim Miguel did not know who the person was.
The Provo Fire Department expressed gratitude for the person who called in after seeing the fire, with buildings surrounding the one that burned are physically connected and “especially with the age of the block,” Miguel said.
In the morning, the fire went up the wall and “burned through the plywood,” Miguel said, noting that a motorcycle was found in the charred area at the end of the alley. The Oregano owner told Miguel that he was worried that homeless people, who will live in the corner overnight, may have played a role, Miguel said.
The area between 100 North and 100 South on Freedom Boulevard and 100 and 300 West on Center Street had been closed temporarily, according to the Provo Police Department.