'I didn't want to believe it:' fire destroys Edmonton's Italian Bakery

An overnight fire has destroyed a popular Edmonton bakery. The Italian Bakery on 118 Avenue and 41 Street was left charred Sunday morning.

An overnight fire tore through a popular 118 Avenue bakery this weekend.

The popular Italian Bakery on 118 Avenue was left charred Sunday morning after an overnight fire. (CBC)

The co-owner of a popular Edmonton bakery that was destroyed by fire Saturday night said he's still in shock after seeing part of his family's 56-year-old business go down in flames.

Italian Bakery co-owner Gilberto Frattin was watching a movie in his basement Saturday night when he got a phone call from police at around 11:20 p.m.

The bakery's second location, at 118 Avenue and 41 Street, was on fire. Frattin said at first, he thought the police officer was joking. 

"I didn't want to believe him," he said. "And then I said, 'ok, maybe this is for real.'"

Frattin jumped in his truck. When he got to the bakery, firefighters were dousing tall flames. 

Fire investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the fire, Edmonton Fire Rescue spokeswoman Jill McKenzie said. Around 30 firefighters battled the blaze. No one was injured, but firefighters had to evacuate a "small number" of people living nearby as a precaution because of smoke. The fire was deemed under control at around 4:15 a.m., she said, and declared out at 8:15 a.m.

Frattin said he hasn't yet been allowed inside the bakery to see the damage for himself. The damage is extensive, he said — the roof caved in, and much of the building was left badly charred. 

The windows of the building were blown out Sunday morning, and the heavy smell of smoke still lingered in the air. The retail side of the store also has water and smoke damage. 

It was hard to see with his own eyes, Frattin said. 

"I still didn't want to believe it," he said. "It was hard."

'Eventually ... we will be up and running as soon as we can'

This is the second, and newest, Italian Bakery location. The first Italian Bakery, at 97 Street and 106 Avenue, was started in 1960 by Frattin's parents, Antonio and Aurora Frattin. 

The bakery left charred Sunday is the "heart and soul" of the family's business, Frattin said.

"That's where we mass produce everything for wholesale," he said. 

Around 20 employees worked at that location, which supplies baked goods and other products for about 300 customers each month, Frattin said. The bakery's original location on 97 Street serves around 1,000 customers a month, he said. 

Some of its customers have been coming to the bakery for 50 years, Frattin added. He said his next focus is just to rebuild the business. For now, he said it would be very hard to use another bakery to produce the same volume of products as their location destroyed by fire.

"To find somebody that could do that, it would be a little bit difficult," Frattin said. 

"(But) eventually, yes, we will be up and running as soon as we can."


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