Boston North End Fire and Smoke at Bella Vista – NBC Boston

Thick black smoke billowed over Hanover Street in Boston’s North End on Wednesday evening.

Boston Fire Department officials said its response to the fire during the dinner rush was made more complicated by the outdoor dining areas set up along the busy street.

“I was just walking and saw thick smoke in the alley,” Sarah Lipworth said. “I’ve lived in the North End for two years, and I don’t know, I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Witnesses posted videos of smoke on social media shortly after the fire broke out at 5:45 p.m.

Several fire engines entered the narrow street known for its bustling restaurants and crowded sidewalks as they tried to reach the fourth floor of the burning building.

Access was difficult,” said Boston Fire Commissioner Jack Dempsey. “On the north end, as cramped as it is, eating al fresco doesn’t help with that.”

Some restaurants along Hanover Street are allowed to set up dining tables where there is parking space otherwise.

Dempsey said the fire started on the fourth floor and spread from the inside to the rooftop.

“When we showed up, thick smoke came from the top floor,” Dempsey said. “The occupants evacuated the entire building, including the restaurant below.”

Amado Vazquez, is a cook at the adjacent Ristorante Saraceno. It was working when the fire broke out.

“We were in the kitchen, then we saw the fires and were told to get out quickly,” Vasquez said.

At about that time, North End resident Jane MacDonald received a letter from her neighbors asking for help in rescuing their two dogs. Unable to reach the building, she got cops and firefighters to get them back.

“Happy story! The dogs are fine,” she said. “I think everyone else is safe, and God bless the fire department and police department. They are the best!”

Dempsey said the buildings that house two restaurants in the neighborhood – Bella Vista and Ristorante Saracino – have experienced some water damage and will remain closed for the time being. The fire commissioner thought the damage would have been so that they would be able to get back to work soon.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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