An industrial Westchester bakery known for its famous cannolis was destroyed Monday in a massive, quick-moving fire likely fueled by the cooking oil inside, officials say.
The fire started at the bakery for Artuso's Pastry Shop on South 12th Avenue in Mount Vernon broke out just after 6:30 a.m. and spread quickly, according to officials. The smoky fire raged for hours, and firefighters had to attack the blaze from the outside only after the bakery ceiling collapsed, sending three firefighters to the hospital with minor injuries.
"The roof collapsed on my guys, we got them out and the fire lit up on us, and it appeared to take off across the roof," said Mount Vernon Deputy Fire Chief John Battista.
The Artuso pastry bakery makes 8 million cannolis a year. All the cooking oil needed to make the pastries likely fueled the blaze, which spread to the roof and engulfed the structure.
More than 50 firefighters from Mount Vernon and the FDNY helped to beat back the flames.
"It was a fast-moving fire, a lot of fire in the building, and it was just very hard to get to," said Mount Vernon Fire Chief Edward Stevenson.
At Artuso's retail location off Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, Anthony Artuso Sr. is promising to rebuild. His father started the bakery in 1946 and now Artuso runs it with his two children.
"Thank goodness no one got hurt," said Artuso. "The building we can replace. The employees are safe, everybody's OK, so that's the important thing."
The challenge now is to find a new space to run the busy bakery in time to make all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas orders.
"This is the worst time. It doesn't get any worse than this," said Artuso. "It's holiday season, which is peak sale season. But it happens, you can't time these things."