A fire that broke out early this morning at the East Village outpost of Caracas Arepa Bar has shuttered the restaurant indefinitely. Nobody was harmed, and the building didn't sustain structural damage, but damage to the restaurant itself is extensive. "The restaurant is pretty fucked up," owner Maribel Araujo told us this afternoon.

Tenants on the second floor, who live directly above the restaurant, smelled smoke early this morning and the fire department was dispatched to the address around 2:30 a.m. The FDNY performed some kind of investigation but didn't find anything at the time, neighbors tell Araujo. The fire department was called again at 7:25 a.m. when the same neighbors awoke to find their apartment filled with more smoke.

Upon arrival, the FDNY discovered a fire had engulfed part of the restaurant.

The investigation is still underway, but it's believed the blaze began in either the restaurant's kitchen or the building's basement. Besides fire and smoke damage, Araujo says they're also looking at extensive water damage and destruction from other fire fighting methods that involve breaking down doors, windows and walls.

"I don't know if it's a total loss, but it's enough so that it's going to take us a little time to put it back together. It's one of those things that might take a couple of months, I'm not sure," Araujo tells us. "We're waiting to see what we're going to do...if we're going to be able to rebuild or no. And that's where we are."

The blaze was bad enough that gas and electricity have been shut off for the entire building at 93H East 7th Street with no word yet on when anything will be restored. The restoration crew was busy pumping water out of the basement this afternoon, in addition to boarding up the restaurant's storefront and other tenant windows directly above. A neighboring location of Luke's Lobster was also forced to shutter for the day due to strong smoke smells in the restaurant.

While dealing with the temporary loss of her business, Araujo also has questions as to why the fire wasn't discovered earlier, which could have prevented things from getting quite so bad.

"It's kind of weird. I asked all the crew that came after from the fire department multiple times, 'How can you explain that you came at two in the morning and you couldn't find that something was going on? Can you give me a little bit of an explanation?'" Araujo questioned. "I'm not pointing fingers, obviously. Nothing happened, nobody got hurt, the building is there, cool. I just kind of want to know the logic about this, it's weird."

As of this afternoon, the FDNY had no updated information about the incident.

Caracas also operates a smaller, takeout operation a few storefronts down, which was untouched by the fire and is open for business today and beyond, as is their Williamsburg outpost.

"For now, only the counter service/takeout service is open [in Manhattan]," Araujo confirms. "We didn't want to let anyone down, so we're open for business there."