Early morning fire damages Cambria restaurant

A fire early Wednesday in a storeroom for Mustache Pete’s Italian Eatery on Burton Drive in Cambria’s East Village was extinguished quickly, but left the restaurant and some adjacent shops filled with the stench of smoke.

As of later that morning, the restaurant was closed as managers awaited the arrival of insurance adjusters and experts who could verify that the restaurant’s wiring was safe to use.

The fire is still under investigation, according to Denis de Clercq, a lieutenant with the Cambria Fire Department, who is initially estimating the structural damage at between $5,000 and $10,000, not counting the cost of supplies in the room and loss of business while the restaurant is closed. He said the fire may have been electrical in nature.

The small storeroom is located behind the Planet Yahats gem and rock shop.

In a bit of a sprinkler-system-like fluke, the blaze melted the solder on a copper water pipe, and the resulting spray of water helped extinguish the fire.

The 1:30 a.m. fire “could have totaled that building,” said Denis deClercq, lieutenant with the Cambria Fire Department. If the fire had gone through that crawl space, it could have gotten really ugly …especially at that hour, if it hadn’t been noticed.”

The fire was reported at about the same time by a person in another part of the multi-unit complex who smelled smoke and by an automatic alarm system in Mustache Pete’s.

More than 20 firefighters from Cambria, Cayucos and Pismo Beach responded to fight the blaze, and engines from San Luis Obispo covered the Cambria Fire station while its crews were busy.

— Kathe Tanner