Four popular restaurants destroyed on Dallas' lower Greenville Avenue

Four popular businesses were destroyed early Tuesday when the roof they shared was toppled by powerful flames that reached at least 40 feet into the predawn sky over Lower Greenville Avenue.

The four-alarm fire was reported at about 5:43 a.m. in the 2800 block of Greenville Avenue, said Jason Evans, spokesman for Dallas Fire-Rescue.

It was about a half-mile north of where the historic Arcadia Theater was destroyed by fire in June 2006.

Initial reports indicated that the massive blaze Tuesday started at Terilli's Italian Restaurant & Bar, and then spread to two other restaurants and a nightclub.

Later, however, officials for Dallas Fire-Rescue were not so sure.

"The problem was there was so much fire coming over roof ... it was hard to pinpoint the origin," Evans said. "Flames were 40 to 50 feet in the air; you would've thought it was a seven-alarm fire.

"The roof came down very soon after it hit four alarms."

One firefighter suffered smoke inhalation and was taken to the hospital, but his condition was not life threatening, said Lt. Joel Lavender, another spokesman for Fire-Rescue.

An estimated 80 firefighters with 15 pieces of heavy equipment responded to the blaze, Evans said.

But, Lavender added, the flames were so massive that firefighters had to take a "defensive" mode.

"The fire had a large head start before we got people en route and on location," Lavender said.

It was "tapped out" at 8:09 a.m., Evans said, but what caused the fire had not yet been established Tuesday morning.

Also, the financial loss had not yet estimated by noon Tuesday, Evans said. The other three businesses were the Greenville Bar and Grill, Mick's Bar and the Hurricane Grill.

"When you look at it from the outside, all the walls are standing," Evans said. "But with the roof coming down, I can tell you those four business are going to be leveled -- just a total loss.

"Usually hundreds upon hundreds of people visit those businesses biz on weekends, but now, all of the people who worked there are out looking for jobs."

Other businesses will try to reach out to displaced workers, said Jorge Levy, owner of Desperados Mexican Restaurant and president of the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association.

The GAABA, and some other Greenville Avenue business groups want to create a relief fund for the workers, Levy said.

He added that as far as he knew, the annual St. Patrick's Day parade on Greenville Avenue will continue as planned on Saturday, March 13.