ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) – A popular Anaheim restaurant was completely gutted by a two-alarm blaze early Saturday morning.
Around 4:20 a.m., crews from multiple agencies responded to the Anaheim White House at 887 S. Anaheim Blvd. to find the restaurant engulfed by heavy flames, with smoke coming from the roof.
According to Anaheim Fire & Rescue, the fire was knocked down within 30 minutes. However, crews spent another three hours monitoring the three-story building for hot spots and flare ups.
Damage was estimated at $1 million. There was no one in the century-old building at the time and there were no injuries, AF&R said.
Investigators were on scene working to determine the cause and origin of the blaze. They don’t suspect foul play.
The restaurant — open for the past 30 years — is closed indefinitely. Owner and Chef Bruno Serato posted the following statement on the restaurant’s Facebook page Saturday.
In 2010, Serato was featured on CBS News for his charity work with and for homeless and needy children.
CBS2’s Joy Benedict spoke to Serato about the fire, his future and how the blaze will affect his charity, Caterina’s Club, named for his mother.
“The fire,” he said, “it’s devastating.”
The blaze was so intense, it melted chandeliers and destroyed pretty much everything in its wake.
The rosary he was given by Pope Francis was “all burned and broke” but Serato said, “firefighters also found a cross and I feel like, okay, this is a sign.”
When he was first told of the blaze he was in denial.
“I honestly thought it was a joke,” Serato said.
His charity work is no joke. For the past 12 years, his Caterina’s Club has fed meals to 2,000 homeless and needy children every day.
And despite his kitchen being destroyed, Serato says he will be feeding those kids Monday like clockwork. A competing business is letting him use their kitchen.
“Just for the children,” he says.
For this man who has given so much and for so long, he’s only asking one thing for the community he has served so loyally.
“Right now,” he says, “a prayer is good enough.”