PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — At least one firefighter was taken to the hospital as fire ripped through Winghart’s restaurant in Market Square downtown on the eve of Light Up Night.
Emergency officials rushed to the scene around noon.
KDKA’s Lindsay Ward Reports:
Thick black smoke and flames were seen pouring from the roof of the restaurant.
WATCH: Crews Battle Fire At Winghart’s —
The four-alarm fire may have started in the chimney and spread to the roof.
A firefighter was taken to a local hospital to be treated for heat exhaustion. His condition has not been released.
Multiple fire trucks were on the scene, and firefighters were seen on the roof trying to bring the flames under control.
Pittsburgh Police evacuated the entire building complex that Winghart’s is located in. That complex also includes Primanti Bros.
“It’s a tough fire, for sure, older building, a lot of wood up top, as you can see, and all those buildings connected. That’s why the first order of business was to get everyone out of there,” said Cara Cruz, a Pittsburgh Public Safety spokesperson.
The fire was finally brought under control around 1 p.m.
— Pgh Public Safety (@PghPublicSafety) November 21, 2019
The restaurant is right across the way from where the Christmas Market that is being set up ahead of Friday night’s Light Up Night festivities. Many of the holiday activities take place in Market Square, including concerts, shopping, the lighting of the Sphere Tree and more.
“We are set to go,” Amy Kofmehl-Sobkowiak said. “We are very excited. It is our sixth year here.”
“The sidewalk around the two businesses will be closed,” Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. “The businesses will be closed. But all in all, the Market Square are will be open beside that corner.”
WATCH: KDKA’s Paul Martino reports live from Market Square on the fire’s impact on Light Up Night.
According to Pittsburgh Fire Bureau Assistant Chief Norman Auvil, the cause remains unknown. An investigating is getting underway to determine what sparked the blaze.
He expects the restaurant to be closed to the public for sometime.
This isn’t the first time there has been a fire at the popular Market Square burger spot.
— Shelby Cassesse (@ShelbyCassesse) November 21, 2019
In 2014, a fire caused about $50,000 worth of smoke damage to Winghart’s. Investigators said the cause was a heat build up in the restaurant’s hood system.
There was also a fire at Winghart’s in 2012. That one-alarm fire was quickly brought under control.
“The last one was the pizza oven,” Winghart’s owner Shiv Bandhu said. “It was a wood-fired pizza oven. … we got rid of that because we didn’t want to deal with any more fires. Those are very hazardous.”
Thursday’s fire didn’t start in the restaurant, but it appears to have ignited in the upper floors of the building.
That points out some other problems for Market Square.
“We’re dealing with old buildings,” Hissrich said. “We’re dealing with, in many cases, they’re not sprinklered. And it’s something that we’re going to have to seriously look at.”
WATCH: KDKA’s Paul Martino reports live on the fire history in Market Square.
There have been several other fires in Market Square over the years. That includes two at Nicholas Coffee in 2017, one causing extensive damage to the building. There were also fires at NOLA and Perle in February of 2014, and Las Velas was damaged by fire in December of 2010.
“We’re going to have to sit down and figure out what’s going on here,” Hissrich said. “It’s worth looking at.”
Wingharts will likely be closed 3-4 months due to extensive water damage, the owner told KDKA’s Shelby Cassesse.
Stay with KDKA for the latest on this developing story.