Fire at Ristorante Piccolo Shuts Down 31st and M St.

[This story was updated July 11.]

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to a fire at Ristorante Piccolo at 1068 31st St. NW, shutting down the street as well as M Street from 31st to Wisconsin Avenue, June 29. According to the fire department, 100 firefighters battled the blaze which broke out in a backroom of the two-story Italian restaurant at lunchtime. A few diners evacuated and none were reported injured. 

DC Fire and EMS tweeted: “2nd Alarm now dispatched 1000 block 31st St NW. Additional manpower required to relief units engaged in firefighting. Fire appears contained but this remains a difficult & stubborn fire. No reported injuries. 20 units & 100 personnel on scene #DCsBravest.” 

As the fire spread, the firefighters faced a structural collapse of the restaurant’s roof. “The fire took nearly four hours to bring under control,” the Washington Post reported. “At one point, fire commanders sounded a distress call when a ceiling collapsed in the backroom. Officials said later that all firefighters who were in that area were found safe. Firefighters took to neighboring rooftops to douse the building with water.”  

Photo by Bill Starrels.

Later, however, DC Fire and EMS reports indicated that two firefighters on the scene suffered minor injuries, were treated in the hospital and released. 

As he was sipping coffee, around 11:30 a.m., before opening for lunch, the restaurant’s owner, Tony Kowkabi first smelled what he thought were burning wires, the Post reported. “The smell just got stronger,” he said, adding that he went out back and noticed an electrical cable had apparently fallen from a pole located on Blues Alley and landed on the roof of the backroom, which has a bar and can accommodate diners.”  

An employee climbed a ladder and attempted to quell the blaze, but the smoke was too thick, so they called the fire department. According to the Post, “Kowkabi said most of the damage was confined to the backroom, where firefighters also removed a good part of the roof.”  

The restaurant will be closed for repairs. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.  

Video and photos by Bill Starrels.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *