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Dallas Italian restaurant razed by fire

Investigators Wednesday afternoon were trying to determine what caused the fire that gutted an Italian restaurant in Dallas, according to reports.

The three-alarm fire was reported at 2:30 a.m. at the Cremona's Italian Bistro, in the 3100 block of Routh Street, northwest of the downtown area.

The crew aboard a Dallas police helicopter spotted the blaze and reported it, said Sherry Lopez, spokeswoman for Dallas Fire-Rescue.

"Within 30 minutes we had it up to three alarms,'' Lopez said. "For a fire to get big enough to see it from a helicopter, it's going to get pretty big pretty quick."

Soon the flames were so intense, firefighters were evacuated from the building. One of them was cut on his forearm, but he was treated and released at Baylor Medical Center, Lopez said.

Electricity was shut off to the block where the restaurant was located, which closed other neighborhood businesses, Lopez said. She predicted that power would be restored by late afternoon on the block.

Meanwhile, she added, firefighters were using heavy equipment to peel back the smoldering debris; they were hosing down hot spots as investigators prepared to look for clues.

"I would imagine that, as the day goes by, that building will get flatter and flatter," Lopez said.