Pizza Man Fire: A Total Loss

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MILWAUKEE - Federal and state arson officials will look into a fire at a building that housed a popular east side restaurant.

Milwaukee Acting Fire Chief Michael Jones says about 150 firefighters fought a four-alarm fire which is believed to have started in the apartments in the same building as Pizza Man, on the corner of Oakland and North avenues.

The building has partially collapsed twice and was described as a total loss. 

"I just see the whole thing's caved in an wow!  Just a loss for words," said Jason Deutsch, who lives across the street.

Officials say the fire was under control at 8:50 a.m. Tuesday.

The fire spread to four additional buildings to the east.  The complex where the fire occurred also includes 10 apartments, the CUSH Lounge, the Greek restaurant Grecian Delight and the Black and White Café.

Pizza Man Fire Coverage

Read:
Pizza Man Total Loss after Fire 
"East Side Institution"
"A Wonderful Little Place"
Memories of Pizza Man
The Cold-Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller: "Pizza Man, We Hardly Knew Ye"

Watch: 
Raw video of the fire
Raw video of the building collapsing
The entire 7:30 a.m. news conference with acting Milwaukee Fire Chief Michael Jones

Interact: 
E-mail your memories of Pizza Man here or tweet them @620wtmj or @TODAYSTMJ4

"I don't know what do to now," said a man who worked at Grecian Delight for 10 years, but no longer has a job.

Hours after the fire started, just after 3:30 a.m., thick black smoke filled the air three blocks away and made it hard for firefighters to breathe while trying to put out the fire.

"We're going to be here for several more hours," said Jones during a 7:30 a.m. news conference.

"We could see some partial (collapses) in another part of the building, so there is no intent on our part to go into the building at this point in time."

Roads were impassable for part of the Tuesday morning commute.

Crews had to contend with low water pressure, weather and issues with electrical lines and had to shut down gas to the building.

Authorities believe that most of the people who lived in the apartments have evacuated the building and are accounted for at this point.  

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries and were treated and released from the hospital.

Authorities don't know how the fire started. 

Firefighters had been focusing their attention on the apartments, but were unable to get inside the building to battle the fire through at least 6:00 a.m.

Jones said the fire was so big that other municipalities covered some of the fire houses which had to respond to this fire.

The Milwaukee Fire Department has called in the state fire marshal and arson investigators to look into the cause.

The restaurant was founded in 1970 and has been well known for both its pizza and its award-winning wine selection.  The owner, who didn't want to speak publicly, told Newsradio 620 WTMJ that he does plan to rebuild.