A pizzeria in Southport Village was damaged by fire early Monday, but firefighters prevented the blaze from seriously damaging neighboring storefronts.
The fire at Sammy's Southport Pizza and Grill at 295 Pequot Ave. was reported about 5:45 a.m. by passing runners.
Sammy Palik, the owner of the pizzeria, said he's operated his eatery there for about 10 years. "I'm shaking right now, I'm just shaking," Palik said as firefighters continued the investigation into the cause of the fire. Palik said he felt like it was a dream, and he would wake up any minute and report to work as usual.
His wife and son sat nearby. "I don't want to cry myself," Palik said. "If I do that, then they're going to collapse. I have to stay strong."
Palik said he plans to re-open as soon as possible. "I want to get up and get on my feet," he said, "for myself and the community."
All active fire crews were dispatched to the scene, assisted by units from Westport and Bridgeport, while Norwalk firefighters provided backup coverage from the rest of town.
No one was hurt during the incident.
Preliminary findings of the investigation into the cause of the fire indicate it started in the pizza oven, according to the Fire Marshal's office.
"Early notification by a couple of Good Samaritans made it possible for us to limit spread and avoid injuries, though as with any fire, the adjoining occupancies suffered some damage," Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola said in a statement issued after the fire was extinguished.
Assistant Fire Chief Chris Tracy said two people running through Southport center spotted the fire and realized it would be faster to go to the Southport firehouse, just around the corner on Main Street, than calling to report the fire.
"The lieutenant and the company called it in, and made entry into the restaurant through the front door," Tracy said. They also cut a trench on the roof, as the fire started to spread into the duct work.
He said the fire didn't spread to either the Workshop, an art gallery next door, or to the nearby Russell Insurance Agency. "There may be some water and smoke damage," Tracy said of the impact on neighboring businesses. He said firefighters moved "everything we could" out of the art gallery.