SAN DIEGO – City firefighters are battling a blaze in 1000 block of University Avenue in Hillcrest.
More than 20 fire vehicles and 100-plus firefighters responded to the scene midafternoon on Wednesday, witnesses said, and the blaze has attracted scores of onlookers. Parts of University Avenue are closed to traffic.
Early reports indicate that the fire started on the roof of the Bounissimo restaurant and spread to the historical building next door containing the Obelisk bookstore and upstairs apartments.
San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria reports that 14 residents of the apartments have been displaced and are being assisted by the Red Cross. Gloria said there were no injuries in the blaze and that there is extensive property damage.
Witnesses believe that a re-roofing project at the restaurant is the root of the fire.
The historical building is one of the oldest standing in Hillcrest.
Obelisk is San Diego's oldest LGBT bookstore, a rare breed these days as free-standing bookstores are giving way to virtual businesses.
The city block also contains the popular nightclub Rich's and Flicks video bar.
Patrons dining across busy University Avenue at Eden had a front-row seat to the blaze, and were among the first to report the blaze to the Fire and Rescue Department as well as the San Diego Gay & Lesbian News.
The fire brought a cloud of smoke to eastern part of Hillcrest, and the air in that part of University Avenue was dense and gray.