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Grease fire guts Carmine’s Restaurant in Clarence

Carmine’s Restaurant, a popular Italian eatery on Transit Road in Clarence for many years, was destroyed by fire Saturday.

A report from Amherst Fire Control said the inferno began as a grease fire in the kitchen at about 1 p.m. Employees were unable to contain it and the flames quickly spread throughout the entire building. Damage was estimated at $500,000 to the structure and $250,000 to the contents.

Steven Pollard, first assistant chief of the Harris Hill Fire Company, said flames were shooting through the roof at the height of the blaze in the one-story building at 4715 Transit Road.

Pollard said the restaurant was not open for business at the time of the fire, but workers were present preparing food.

Carmine’s was one of the vendors at Saturday’s Taste of Buffalo. In fact, as the restaurant was burning down, Carmine’s bacon-wrapped casino stuffed shrimp was being voted the best seafood item at the Taste.

According to the Taste website, Carmine’s also was offering sriracha chicken flatbread, cucumber avocado caprese salad and “Neptune Supreme,” a mixture of lobster, scallops and shrimp tossed with linguine.

Several passing motorists saw thick, black smoke pouring from the exhaust fan on the restaurant’s roof and phoned in the alarm on cellphones at 1:05 p.m. Harris Hill Chief Michael Schreiber Jr. arrived within four minutes and immediately put out a second alarm for mutual aid.

Besides Harris Hill, the Clarence, East Amherst, Bowmansville and Main-Transit fire companies had firefighters at the scene, while the Clarence Center and Williamsville fire companies were placed on standby duty. The blaze was declared under control at 2:24 p.m.

All of the employees escaped safely, and no firefighters were hurt, Pollard said. Traffic on Transit Road was blocked between Main Street and Sheridan Drive to allow hoses to be connected to hydrants on the opposite side of the road. The road was reopened at about 4 p.m.