NEW ORLEANS — Two people were taken to the hospital after a five-alarm fire broke out in a French Quarter restaurant early Saturday, sending restaurant workers scurrying and closing down traffic to what is normally a busy block of eateries.
Two people were transported to a local hospital after complaining about smoke inhalation, according to information released Saturday afternoon. A nearby hotel was also evacuated.
The New Orleans Fire Department learned of the fire just before 7 a.m. Saturday morning at the Oceana Grill near the intersection of Conti Street and Bourbon Street in the French Quarter through a 911 call.
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Oceana Grill, the Copper Monkey Bar & Grill and Olde N'Awlins Cookery, as well as several other businesses, were affected by the fire, NOFD spokesman Louis Carrier said.
The fire was originally reported as a 2-alarm blaze before being upgraded to a 4-alarm shortly after it was discovered and upgraded again to a 5-alarm just before 10 a.m.
After several hours, 23 fire units and more than 90 firefighter battling back the flames, officials ruled the blaze under control around 10:45 a.m.
"The damage is going to be extensive," said New Orleans Fire Captain Edwin Holmes. "We're going to be here all day. The 700 block of Conti will be closed all day and possibly into tomorrow."
French Quarter fire damages Oceana Grill, Olde N'awlins Cookery, shuts down Conti Street
Conti Street was closed by emergency responders from Dauphine to Royal streets. Bourbon Street has been closed off from Bienville Street to Saint Louis Street. City officials have not given an estimated time for the re-opening of the streets.
Fire officials have not provided any details about the cause of the fire, but a couple of men who said they were workers at Ocean Grill said the fire started at the fryer and the flames were intense. Holmes said they went up through the roof.
A fire in the French Quarter is automatically upgraded to at least a 2-alarm response because of the close proximity of buildings and the chance for the fire to rapidly spread.