Edmonton

'We grew up there': Fire damages Italian Bakery and family apartment above

The Italian Bakery on 97th Street at 106th Avenue was damaged by fire early Friday. It's the second major fire the family that owns the business has had to deal with.

'The other one was just a building, this one here, a little more personal'

Crews were called to a fire at the Italian Bakery on 97th Street around 4 a.m. on Friday. (David Bajer/CBC)

A fire early Friday caused significant damage to the Italian Bakery at 10644 97th St., leaving business founders Antonio and Aurora Frattin, who lived in an apartment upstairs, without a home.

"My parents were there, they were in bed sleeping," co-owner Gilberto Frattin told CBC News. 

Gilberto said his father got up during the night, noticed the smoke and woke his wife. They called 911.

"They threw something on and got out of there as quick as they could," Gilberto said.

His parents were taken to hospital to be checked over, and are fine, their son said.

"They're ready to go home," he said. "We didn't have the heart to tell them there's no place to go."

The older Frattins, who are in their mid-80s, are the only people who live in the large apartment suite above the bakery.

The building was expanded in the mid-1970s. It's the older part of the building, which housed the bakery, that appears to have suffered the most damage, Gilberto said.

"On the new side where the store is, I think it's just smoke damage, from what we could see from the street," he said. "The bakery side where the old apartment was, where we grew up ... I don't think there will be much to salvage." 

Antonio Frattin in the Italian Bakery on 97th Street in Edmonton. (Italian Bakery/Facebook)

Frattin and his siblings own the bakery and a second one at 41st Street and 118th Avenue. That building was heavily damaged by a fire in 2016.

But this time is different, Gilberto said.

"We grew up there. Everything we own is in that apartment," he said, his voice breaking. "The other one was just a building, this one here, a little more personal."

As a result of the fire, about 20 people will be out of work, Gilberto said.

He said the family has not yet discussed whether to rebuild or to relocate the business.

Rebuilding the other bakery after the fire in 2016 was a painful process that took 14 months, and Gilberto said he's not sure the family wants to go through that again.

"I always said to myself I would never do this again and then it goes and happens again," he said. "We'll see how much truth there is to that."

He said he expects his father won't believe that his home is gone until he sees it for himself.

"He's got to see it with his own eyes, I'm pretty sure."

Another wrinkle is that his parents returned home to Edmonton from Mexico a week ago and have been in quarantine because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pandemic had slowed down the family's wholesale business but the store was still doing well, Gilberto said.

It appears the older part of the building, that housed the bakery, suffered the most damage, co-owner Gilberto Frattin said. (David Bajer/CBC)

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