Cause of Lorenzo's on South Street Fire

Fire investigators find that the blaze originated in wiring in the ceiling of the first floor of pizza place

Thousands of Philadelphians were shocked Wednesday to hear the news that Lorenzo and Sons Pizza on South Street (near 3rd) would be closed after fire tore through the landmark business.

The fire broke out around 10:25 a.m. Wednesday at the pizza shop known for its mega slices, late-night hours and no nonsense ordering.

Owner Giuseppe Pulizzi told NBC10 after the blaze that the ovens were off -- the pizza place normally opens at 11 a.m. -- and it appears that the fire possibly began in an exhaust fan in the back of the building.

On Friday, fire Battalion Chief William Dell told NBC10 that the fire had, in fact, started in ceiling wiring above the oven and grill exhaust duct on the first floor. Firefighters say the wiring apparently caused wood in the ceiling to catch fire causing the flames to quickly spread.

One firefighter suffered a left knee injury battling the blaze. He is expected to be OK, firefighters said.

Three workers and the owner's dog were able to escape the blaze unharmed.

Firefighters say it didn’t take long for dozens of fire personnel to bring the fire under control but the damage was already done to Lorenzo's.

The famous storefront mural had to be cut to allow ventilation. An NBC10 photographer on the scene reported parts of the billboard were obviously cut out including a square portion right over Lorenzo's founder's face.

"It's really a sad day for us," Pulizzi said facing away from the destroyed mural of his father.

There was extensive interior damage to all three floors including the ground floor where the restaurant is located, according Deputy Chief Joseph McGraw.

Pulizzi says the family-owned business has been at its South Street location for almost 25 years. He described to NBC10 trying to get everyone, including his dog from a second floor office, out of the building as the fire grew.

"I ran in... I opened the door, grabbed the dog and by the time I opened the door it was instant, the smoke came flying into the office. Just grabbed a shirt, covered my face and just ran out," Pulizzi said. "By the time I got to the first floor it was complete, black darkness and I just ran out, made sure my workers were OK.

"Everyone's fine and that's the only thing that really matters."

The pizza shop will be shut down for an unknown period of time. It normally operates from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. -- 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Those craving a late-night bite will need to find another spot for now but the owner says not to worry.

"We're Lorenzo's were gonna come back -- we'll come back stronger."

Fan, follow and download: Get the latest from anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, our mobile site and NBC Philadelphia. Sign up for our breaking news newsletter. And, get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text PHIBREAKING to 639710 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)

Contact Us