Firefighters from Akron and neighboring Fairlawn continued into the afternoon to attack a persistent fire that broke out Friday morning at Pavona's Pizza Joint and Mickey's Irish Pub on Sand Run Road, just off West Market Street.
Tim Morrison, Akron fire's public information officer, said nobody was injured in the fire and no cause had been determined yet. Fairlawn provided mutual aid. Dominion Energy arrived on the scene to shut off natural gas lines.
'I want to rebuild': Pizza shop owners devastated after fire, News 5 Cleveland reports
Two ladder trucks kept pouring water down from on high for more than two hours. Six other fire engines responded as well. Firefighters on the rooftop of Sand Run Pharmacy next door directed the flow of water from the ladder trucks, Morrison said.
By 1:30 p.m., just one of the ladder trucks continued to put water on the building, with firefighters at that point looking for hot spots in what was left of the structure. Fairlawn firefighters were getting ready to leave, Morrison said.
"It's gone way down," Morrison said of the fire. Akron Fire Department investigators as of 1:30 had not gone into the site to try to determine how the fire started, he said.
It was apparent that little was left of the two businesses hours after the fire was discovered.
At its height, heavy smoke poured out from the fire and blanketed the Pilgrim Square business district along the busy West Market corridor for more than two hours after firefighters were dispatched at 9:40 a.m.; authorities closed the road and a stretch of Sand Run Road from Market north to Wiltshire Road.
The building's owners, who operate both the restaurant and pub, were seen gathered near the building, but declined to be interviewed as firefighters continued to work at the scene.
"They poured their whole lives into it," Elise Beach said of the owners as she watched the fire. She worked at Pavona's briefly as a dishwasher and said she had friends who also worked there. She and her father would go to the restaurant to eat, usually ordering a Margherita pizza.
"Theirs was really good. You could tell it was really fresh," Beach said. "Everyone loved that place."
Neighbor Shawn McKee said it was heartbreaking to watch the building burn.
Pavona's "is a neighborhood and Akron institution," she said. "It's more than just a restaurant." It's where she met her fiance, she said.
The pizza parlor opened in 2016 in a building that Vaccaro's Pizza had operated out of on-and-off over several decades.
McKee said she felt devastated for its owners. "They're kind-hearted people. They have a lot of love for the community."
Ann Manby, who lives nearby, brought a case of bottled water to the scene for first responders.
"I'm just sad for the owners and the neighborhood," she said. "It's been great to have a small family-owned business in the neighborhood."
Manby said the owners were kind to her wife and to her daughter.
"This is just going to be very hard to come back from," Manby said. "They've just been an anchor. It's just a real shame. ... Their pizza is phenomenal. They have some of the best pizza in town. I hope they are able to rebuild."
Another neighbor, Kat Miller, watched the fire with sadness. She said she has been a Pavona's customer since the restaurant opened and helped decorate the place at Christmas.
"This is a huge loss. It really is," Miller said. "Hopefully they can rebuild soon."
Surrounding businesses closed their shops while firefighters worked and smoke consumed the area; electricity and gas were cut to some nearby buildings as crews tended to the scene.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Large fire burned down Pavona's Pizza Joint in Akron