Blaze breaks out in French Quarter apartments

New Orleans firefighters were called to a burning French Quarter apartment building Thursday morning, one week after they were dispatched to the same building for another fire.

The second fire, which 75 firefighters needed about two hours to get under control, was called in about 7:20 a.m. when someone reported seeing smoke coming from Café Sbisa, 1011 Decatur St., Fire Superintendent Tim McConnell said.

Firefighters used a thermal-imaging device to look for fire inside the restaurant but found only smoke in the second and third floors.

Instead, flames were flickering inside a building at 1005 Decatur St., across the street from the French Market.

The fire began in a second-floor apartment of that building and had spread to the third floor and roof by the time firefighters made their way inside, said Chief Terry Hardy, a Fire Department spokesman.

Officials rang a third alarm at 8:22 a.m. to increase manpower, and the fire was declared under control at 9:02 a.m.

No injuries were reported.

An investigation by the Fire Department, state Fire Marshal’s Office, FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was under way Thursday afternoon to determine the cause. Such a joint investigation is a common practice, Hardy said.

Firefighters were called to the same building Sept. 19 after an electric fire ignited another three-alarm blaze.

Hardy said that until the cause of this week’s blaze can be determined, it would be only speculation whether there was anything suspicious about two fires happening so close together in the same building.

He said he believed the building was vacant following the previous fire.

Café Sbisa suffered some smoke and water damage but was spared any serious devastation. Manager Brian Halley said crews would begin to assess the damage on Friday but that he expected the restaurant, which reopened recently for the first time since 2008, to be open again next week.