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'Stubborn' fire claims Naperville's Rosebud restaurant
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

Naperville firefighters work on the fire Sunday at Rosebud Restaurant, 48 West Chicago Ave. in downtown Naperville.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Firefighters were called to the Rosebud restaurant, 48 Chicago Ave., at about noon on Sunday.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Naperville firefighters work on the fire Sunday at Rosebud Restaurant, 48 West Chicago Ave., in downtown Naperville.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

Naperville firefighters work on the fire Sunday at Rosebud Restaurant, 48 West Chicago Ave. in downtown Naperville.

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 7/11/2010 2:19 PM | Updated: 7/12/2010 8:28 AM

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A stubborn fire erupted Sunday inside Rosebud in downtown Naperville, disrupting the bustling shopping district as firefighters battled heat and humidity to extinguish flames and minimize damage.

Firefighters rushed to the popular Italian eatery at noon after they said workers alerted them to flames shooting out the kitchen ceiling inside the brick building at 48 W. Chicago Ave.

Plumes of thick smoke billowed out of the roof as the initial crew of 25 fire personnel arrived. One dozen workers and another 12 patrons were safely evacuated without injury, said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Zywanski.

He said it took more than an hour to extinguish the main blaze, and firefighters continued putting out smaller spot fires smoldering in multiple roof layers for another two hours afterward. Flames caused significant damage to the kitchen hood and duct system, and authorities deemed the restaurant's kitchen uninhabitable.

"It was very tough," Battalion Chief Michael Veseling said. "The guys did a tremendous job."

The cause of the blaze still is under investigation. Earlier in the day, police blocked access to parts of downtown streets surrounding Rosebud, where hundreds of curious folks who typically would be shopping, dining or strolling the Riverwalk instead stood by watching or snapping photos.

"It's very sad," said Linda Warren of Naperville. "We celebrated my grandmother's 90th birthday here, and my husband and I came for our anniversary. It's a nice place, and now all those workers are going to be out of jobs while they remodel."

Rosebud opened in the heart of Naperville's downtown in 1993. It's one of eight locations, with the original opening on Chicago's Taylor Street more than three decades ago. The Naperville eatery closed for remodeling earlier this year. It reopened with a new menu of homemade comfort foods but quickly returned to its traditional Italian classics.

Though damage still is being accessed, Naperville Mayor George Pradel hoped the eatery would reopen to serve its next bowl of pasta within a few months. He called Rosebud a treasure to downtown economic development.

"People say why do we need to go downtown to Chicago when we have restaurants like Rosebud here in Naperville right at our fingertips," said the mayor, who stopped by Sunday's fire scene after judging a baking contest. "It's added to the notoriety of our downtown."

Zywanski upgraded his department's response to a third alarm so that firefighters from several surrounding towns could assist his men and women, as well as cover other 911 calls throughout town. Besides the building's multiple layers of roof, Sunday's heat and humidity caused additional concern. Volunteers with the department's emergency management agency assisted to keep firefighters cool and hydrated.

In all, more than 60 fire personnel assisted Sunday. Departments that offered Naperville aid include Aurora, Bolingbrook, Darien, Downers Grove, Glen Ellyn, Lisle-Woodridge, Lockport, North Aurora, Plainfield, Westmont, Wheaton, Winfield and the Tri-State.

"We have a very old structure here with many layers of roof, so it turned out to be a very stubborn fire," Zywanski said, adding: "We wanted to get additional crews in to relieve our people and keep them fresh."

•Daily Herald staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.