Delaney's in New Haven torn down after large fire on Tuesday - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Delaney's in New Haven torn down after large fire on Tuesday

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What's left of Delaney's following a fire on Monday night. (WFSB photo) What's left of Delaney's following a fire on Monday night. (WFSB photo)
NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

It's a loss for a business and the entire New Haven community as a three-alarm fire destroyed an iconic pub in the Elm City and took the homes of five families.

The fire tore through Delaney's Restaurant and Tap Room on Whalley Avenue in the Westville section of the city started around 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

"We came walking down the hill and at that time the flames were shooting out of the roof and it was pretty intense," said one eyewitness.

The fire chief told Eyewitness News that the building was a total loss and what was left of the building was knocked down during the day on Tuesday.

"It's an icon. It's been here forever," said Patrick Mooney, of New Haven.

Eyewitness News was told that the fire began in the basement and quickly worked its way up through the 100-year-old walls. Investigators spent most of Tuesday investigating that area and said they believe the cause of fire is possibly due to an electrical issue.

Owner Peter Gremse started picking up on something not being right.

"He thought he could put it out," said co-owner Kat Gremse. "He grabbed a fire extinguisher and he realized pretty quickly it was beyond his ability so he got everyone out."

The customers and the families in the five apartments above Delaney's all escaped. The Red Cross said it's helping 10 adults with emergency housing.

"All my stuff is inside, money, clothes, everything," Rami Alnazzai, who is a tenant, told Eyewitness News on Monday night. "I have nothing."

The remains of the New Haven landmark were still smoldering on Tuesday morning, 13 hours after the blaze had started.

As onlookers watched a piece of the Elm City burn to the ground, they realized that the city lost a landmark.

"It's really sad," said Anastasia Okoniewski of New Haven. "This is where everyone comes. People ask you where you live, and you say Westville. They ask where that is, and you say 'Delaney's' and it's 'Oh, I know where you live.'"

Four firefighters were injured, but only one was admitted to a local hospital, officials said. The firefighter that was hospitalized is expected to be OK.

The owners told Eyewitness News they are already planning their return.

"We're all safe and healthy and we can go forward," Kat Gremse said. "I don't know what that looks like and it's a lot of work, but we'll figure it out."

Whaley Avenue remained closed near the remains of the building was still closed as of 3:30 p.m. Traffic can fork off at Fountain Street and reconnect up onto Whaley Avenue just past Delaneys.

Whalley Avenue was shut down until further notice between Blake Street and Tour Avenue.

Police stressed that drivers who travel in this area should be mindful of the closures and should possibly find another route.

As of 4 p.m., there were 40 United Illuminating Company customers still without power including many businesses along Whalley Avenue. Utility officials said they "will restore service to them after the Fire Department declares it is safe to do so." The power was expected to be back on Tuesday evening.

Also several natural gas customers were also affected by the fire and authorities were working to restore that service as well.

The impact of this fire is widespread. Many events were scheduled at Delaney's Restaurant and Tap Room this week including the Tip-a-Cop fundraiser for the New Haven Police Department.

Police said the Tip-a-Cop fundraiser has been postponed due to the fire and has been tentatively rescheduled for Sept. 19. The new venue for the fundraiser will be announced soon, according to police. 

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