The investigation was underway Monday into what caused the fire that heavily damaged the landmark Anaheim White House restaurant in Anaheim, authorities said.
Local venues have offered their banquet facilities and kitchens and a GoFundMe account was set up to help an Anaheim restaurant owner who feeds needy children and whose landmark eatery was extensively damaged by fire Sunday.
“Can’t stop crying. We lost the Anaheim White House restaurant from a fire during the night. No one was hurt. I am devastated,” Anaheim White House owner Bruno Serato posted on Facebook.
Heavy flames and smoke were seen coming from the restaurant, located at 887 S. Anaheim Blvd., prompting about 40 firefighters from Anaheim, Orange and Garden Grove to join the fight.
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The blaze was reported at 4:18 a.m. Saturday and primary knockdown was achieved at 4:50 a.m., though firefighters remained on scene to work on hot spots, said Daron Wyatt, public information officer for the Anaheim Fire Department.
Wyatt said there is extensive damage to the structure and its contents but an estimate has yet to be tabulated.
“While there is no indication the fire was intentionally set, cause cannot be determined until results of laboratory testing of various electrical components is conducted,” Wyatt said in a statement released Sunday.
“This process can take weeks to months to conclude,” Wyatt continued. “Anaheim Fire and Rescue is committed to conducting a complete and thorough investigation and is working cooperatively with insurance investigators in this matter.”
Serato has fed hundreds of thousands of meals to underprivileged children who live in Orange County and Long Beach motels in the past dozen years, publicist Frank Groff said.
Serato also started programs to help families get into permanent homes and to train youth for careers in the hospitality industry, Groff said.
“A GoFundMe page has been created to help him rebuild the restaurant, keep his charitable work going and restore his dream,” Groff said. “With enough funds, he plans to help his staff who are now unemployed.”
The page is at www.gofundme.com/AnaheimWhiteHouse, he said.
Local venues have also stepped forward to help, Groff said. Pearl East, an outdoor mall in Rowland Heights and Event 39 Center in Anaheim have offered their facilities to accommodate banquets scheduled at the White House and their kitchens to prepare meals for children.
The cause of the blaze was still unknown, but Groff said work crews were installing carpet upstairs in the restaurant until 3 a.m.
The restaurant started out as a home, built by Dosithe Gervais in 1909, according to the company’s website.
Mr. and Mrs. George Waterman purchased the home in 1916; but soon after, the home was sold to the Truxaw family, who would call the mansion their home for 50 years.
In 1978, Mrs. Anthony Bouch purchased the home with designs to open an antique store. After making $100,000 in renovations, however, her health failed and she was unable to fulfill her dream, according to the website.
Jim and Barbara Stovall purchased the home in 1981, planning to build condominiums in its place, even hiring an architect to help with the design.
But on the eve of the scheduled demolition, Stovall told her husband that she couldn’t bear the thought of the home being destroyed. New plans were then drawn up, almost immediately, for the restoration of the home as “The White House Restaurant,’ which opened on New Year’s Eve of 1981.
Serato is an Italian immigrant who came to the United States with $50 in his pocket and saved the money to open his restaurant 30 years ago, Groff said. He is known worldwide for his charity work and he even mortgaged his own home during the recession to keep his charity work going.”
–City News Service
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