The Sunday night fire that engulfed Tatiana, the beloved Russian eatery and nightclub located on the Brighton Beach boardwalk, was started by a lit cigarette under the boardwalk, the Fire Department said Monday.
The two-alarm fire started while the restaurant was still open, as Bklyner reports, around 9:45 p.m. The fire department responded quickly, dispatching a total of 106 firefighters and EMS responders to put out the blaze. One firefighter sustained minor injuries, but didn't go to the hospital.
(Brighton Beach, Brooklyn) Large Fire Under Boardwalk — Firefighters quickly extinguished the growing flames. An investigation is underway. Following here: https://t.co/qRGe1XuJ85 #CitizenAppNYC pic.twitter.com/nhEs2AjvUO
— Citizen NYC (@CitizenApp_NYC) April 15, 2019
An FDNY spokesperson told Gothamist that the cigarette ignited a mattress under the boardwalk, which then spread to the six-story building above it, which houses the restaurant as well as apartments. While the fire ripped through the patio and charred much of the restaurant, it was relatively contained. The spokesperson said the fire did not spread to the apartments atop the restaurant.
While Tatiana is closed for now, owner Lenny Bender told Pix 11 News that it was "nothing difficult to fix" and that he hoped to open shop again in several weeks.
The circumstances of the recent fire has residents urging the city to provide more resources and services to homeless people who set up camp under the boardwalk. A 1997 fire that seared underneath the boardwalk, steps away from Tatiana, left three homeless people dead.
Tatiana was previously damaged in a 2003 fire, which started from unknown causes.