A fire investigator on the scene at Crispelli's that was damaged by fire. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)
Berkley — Authorities determined a fire that damaged two pizzerias situated side by side in a strip mall Tuesday morning was caused by the careless disposal of a cigarette by a patron the night before.
A Berkley police officer smelled smoke at 2:27 a.m. while on patrol in the area of 12 Mile and Woodward, which she tracked down to Crispelli’s, a popular pizzeria and bakery, according to Berkley Fire Marshal Corey Miller.
Berkley firefighters, assisted by fire departments Huntington Woods, Beverly Hills and Oak Park, quickly extinguished the blaze which was mostly centered on Crispelli’s Club Room.
No criminal charges were expected to follow the incident, which investigators believe to be accidental.
After reviewing video surveillance, investigators determined the blaze began outside the rear of the building, where a customer had tossed a cigarette into shrubs outside.
“(The cigarette) smoldered in the shrubbery,” Miller said. “When they caught fire it spread into the eaves of the building.”
Miller said the fire and water damage to the Club Room was “not extensive” although the smell of smoke was still apparent hours later.
Two workers arriving at Uncle Andy’s Pizza, located directly next door, found their front door shattered as firefighters made entry to ensure the blaze hadn’t spread. The building had minor water damage, Miller said.
Both Crispelli’s Club Room and Uncle Andy’s had their doors boarded up by water and fire clean-up crews. Both were expected to be open Tuesday, which Miller said might not have happened if not for firefighters being notified early.
“Our officer, she’s the one who really saved Crispelli’s,” Miller said.