February 19, 2009. A local Argentinian tapas bar, popularly known for it's friendly atmosphere, and live music events, burned down in a fire early Thursday morning. The office and apartment located upstairs were also burned but residents made it outside safely. (photo by Maya Myers)

LINCOLN BLVD — A fire broke out in Santino’s Restaurant early Thursday morning, gutting the building and destroying the apartments above, authorities said.

No one was hurt in the blaze.

Firefighters responded to the two-alarm blaze at 1:09 a.m. and doused it within 30 minutes of arrival. The heat of the flames coming from the front of the building melted the clear plastic paneling of the newsracks outside and scorched the Safe Gas Services store next door.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, said Santa Monica Fire Department Capt. Brad Graham.

The fire laid waste to the interior of the building, leaving only muddy trails of ash and the bare building frame along with burned out equipment inside. The apartments were covered in soot, with remnants of electronics and furniture springing up out of piles of wall board that lay cracked on the floor.

“Se quemó todo (It burned everything),” said a child at the scene.

Employees and residents of the building salvaged what they could from the wreckage, bringing down cartons of eggs, oranges and the odd bit of furniture from the interior.

Sebastian Bisval, the manager of Santino’s, said the restaurant had dealt with fires before, but nothing like this.

“I’m sad,” he said. “To me, it’s my life.”

Sergio Amata, the owner, founded the restaurant three years ago and named it after his son. It offered an eclectic menu of Spanish tapas, Italian pasta and Mexican food, as well as a wide assortment of bottled beer.


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