Second fire at Boca, Sotto was 'exactly the same situation' as first, Cincinnati Fire Dept. says

CINCINNATI -- A fire at popular Downtown restaurants Boca and Sotto was "exactly the same situation" as another about 18 months ago, a fire official said.

Wednesday's fire started at about noon at Sotto, a popular Italian restaurant, according to Assistant Fire Chief Tom Lakamp.

The fire originated in the restaurant's hood exhaust system, which is above a wood-fired grill. Lakamp blamed creosote buildup, which he said ignited.

The exhaust system extends up through Boca and vents at the building's roof. Lakamp said firefighters had to break open some walls inside Boca to get at the ductwork.

Sotto was open at the time of the fire, but everyone got out safely. Boca was not open. David Falk, the restaurants' chef and owner, said both would reopen for dinner.

The two restaurants share the same ownership group and building on East Sixth Street near Walnut Street. That same space once housed top-rated French restaurant the Maisonette, while the basement -- Sotto's location -- was home to La Normandie. 

The last fire, in December 2016, caused about $100,000 worth of damage.

The area of Sixth and Walnut streets was closed to traffic as crews worked to extinguish the fire. City building officials also were there to work on a plan so the same thing wouldn't happen again, Lakamp said.

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