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Smoky fire engulfs former Spaziani Bakery in Watertown

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Firefighters were looking on Tuesday for the cause of a smoky fire that engulfed the former Spaziani Bakery, 612 Swan St.

City firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 1 p.m. and reported smoke coming from the second floor of the former bakery, which now is a warehouse. No one was injured.

Investigators still were at the scene Tuesday evening trying to find a cause, fire officials said.

The group of 15 firefighters initially battling the blaze later grew to 25, with two people spraying water from above from the department’s ladder truck. Off-duty firefighters were called back to work to assist with other potential emergencies, said Fire Chief Dale C. Herman.

Unable to maneuver safely inside the building, firefighters had tried an offensive operation but retreated and fought the blaze from the outside, Chief Herman said.

“It was hot,” he said. “Flames were coming out of three sides of the building and there was a lot of smoke.”

The fire appeared to have ignited on the second floor and spread to the wooden roof, where it was tough to put out, and flames sprouted back up for about an hour. During the height of the blaze, smoke was wafting over the Arsenal Street Bridge.

By 2:15 p.m., the fire was extinguished but left a gaping hole in the building’s roof. National Grid was called to turn power off inside the structure.

A three-generation business, Spaziani Bakery, known for its Italian bread and pizzas, started on Polk Street in 1907 and moved to the Swan Street location, a one-time grocery store, in 1914. The business closed in 1994.

The site now is owned by Frank V. Marzano, who said he has used it mostly for storage of family members’ personal items since he bought it seven years ago. He said the building, which is insured, was holding furniture, equipment, an automobile and antiques. He said that it had been four or five days since he had been in the part of the building where the fire is believed to have started and that he did not want to speculate on a possible cause.

He said he was just relieved that no one was hurt.

“Let (firefighters) do their thing and we’ll figure out what happened later,” Mr. Marzano said.

Members of the Spaziani family watched from across the street while firefighters fought the blaze.

June A. Marzano, granddaughter of original owners Gaetano “Guy” and Ida Spaziani, recalled the days when the family ran the bakery and a Public Square restaurant and later sold pizza out of the newer section of the building, constructed during the 1970s.

“There’s lots of memories,” said third-generation baker Christopher Marcinko.

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