A RESTAURANT will be closed for at least two weeks for repairs following a blaze sparked by a cigarette.
Flames damaged the first floor of the Fratelli Italian restaurant in St Mary’s Hill, Stamford, on Tuesday evening.
Four fire crews from Stamford, Bourne and Market Deeping were called to the scene just after 5.30pm.
Police cordoned off St Mary’s Hill and there were long queues as traffic was diverted. The restaurant was closed at the time and no-one was on the premises.
Owner John Femminile said the restaurant would be closed for two to three weeks while the first floor is repaired.
Mr Femminile, who has run the business for 10 years, believes the fire was caused by someone having a cigarette and throwing it away.
He said: “I am quite upset about it. It does knock you back a bit. You have to keep your chin up and carry on. Luckily the main restaurant suffered no damage and we plan to reopen in two to three weeks once redecoration has been completed. Thankfully none of the ground floor was affected and our beautiful building remains intact.”
Neighbouring trader David Hollands raised the alarm after seeing flames in an upstairs window at the back of the restaurant.
Mr Hollands, who owns Stamford Music Shop, said: “There were flames in the window and the glass was cracking.
“The firefighters went in the front door with a sledge hammer.
“If I hadn’t noticed it, it would have kept going.”
Firefighters have been praised by shop owners in the area for dealing with the blaze.
Staff at nearby St Mary’s Books and Prints were allowed to stay open until 6pm but were concerned about the spread of fire along the historic buildings.
Owner Marcus Tyers said: “They did quite well to get it out so quickly, I was concerned at one point, it doesn’t take a lot for fire to spread.”
He added: “The traffic was horrendous, I was trying to get to a football match in Nottingham and I couldn’t get out of Stamford.
“It was jam-packed.”