Center Street fire collapses Provo restaurant roof

Jessica Smith
Provo firefighters battle the inferno at Center Street restaurant Los Hermanos. (Jessica Smith)

Flames destroyed Provo restaurant Los Hermanos last night after a fire erupted at around 8 p.m.

Restaurant Manager Kevin Self said the fire originated in the basement and spread unnoticed until smoke started billowing out the doors and into the skyline. Firefighters rushed to the scene to face what became several hours worth of battle to contain the damage.

Braden Lanham is a resident of 63 Center, an apartment complex adjacent to Los Hermanos. He was sitting at home when the fire alarm went off and he said he could smell  smoke.

“At first, I thought it was just a drill, but I could smell the smoke and then I heard my neighbors leaving, so I grabbed a few things and headed outside,” he said. “An hour later at 9:01 p.m., they let us back in. But then policemen came and made everybody leave again because the flames had gotten a lot worse.”

Nathan Witham, the son of Los Hermanos’ owners Lisa and Craig Witham, said he was surprised to still be standing outside at 10:51 p.m.

“My parents were standing out here at 9 p.m., and the firemen said they would get to walk through the building,” Witham said. “But then 40 minutes later, I could hear the roof caving in from where I was at Wells Fargo, and the flames were climbing high.”

Jessica Smith
Flames on the roof of Los Hermanos caused the building to collapse from within. (Jessica Smith)

Self sent out a text at 10:11 p.m. updating employees that while the smoke had been contained from the first outbreak, the fire had spread up the back of the building and then onto the roof.

At 11:30 p.m., Self reported the roof had officially caved in.

“It’s gone,” he said. “It’s totally a wreck.”

Provo native Debbie Webb gazed on from across the street, open-mouthed and frozen in place in the chill of the February air. Her breath rose in the air like the puffs of smoke that clouded the scene in front of her as she let out a sigh.

“I just remember seeing the tabernacle burning here just a few years ago,” Webb said, turning her body to point to the City Center Temple. “This brings back a lot of really sad memories. These buildings are being ruined.”

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