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Astoria cafe closed after smoking fire

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The blaze, which was called in at about 2 a.m. Saturday at the corner of 30th Avenue and 30th...

By Cynthia Koons

A midnight fire at the Rainbow Café and Diner in Astoria took no victims but left the restaurant and upstairs dentist office closed as of Saturday morning.

The blaze, which was called in at about 2 a.m. Saturday at the corner of 30th Avenue and 30th Street in Astoria, was under control within an hour, a Fire Department spokesman said. The FDNY said the cause of the fire was careless smoking and that it was not deemed suspicious. No charges have been filed.

Vayas Kouvaros, the owner of the restaurant, located at 30-01 30th Ave., said he got a phone call in the middle of the night alerting him that there was a fire.

The diner closes at midnight and luckily, he said, none of his five employees were in the building when the fire broke out.

“We’re going to close until it takes time to clean up,” Kouvaros said.

Most of the damage in his store was downstairs in the basement, where he said the fire began.

“There is no light so we cannot see in the basement,” he said.

He estimated the eatery would reopen in about a week.

“All the inventory is destroyed,” he said while standing in a pile of broken plaster in the doorway of his diner where a handwritten sign read: “Temporary Closed.”

As he surveyed the damage, a professional clean-up crew from Tradewinds Restoration examined the entire two-story corner building.

“If there’s no major, major damage, we could (repair the building) in 24 hours,” Anthony Tellier of Tradewinds Restoration said.

For the soot, he said sponges would soak up the dirt. He said his company would also use spray agents to neutralize the dingy odor of smoke that permeated the building Saturday morning.

“The next step is there’s going to be mold and that’s a health issue,” Tellier said of the water damage.

Upstairs, at Vasos Eracleous’ dental practice, Eracleous and his employees cancelled the day’s appointments because the building’s water supply was turned off.

He found out about the fire because a patient paged him: “Fire under your office in Astoria.”

“I was worried — I left my back-up tape for my computer,” Eracleous said. He drove from Sheepshead Bay to Astoria in 20 minutes to find out what happened to his office.

“We spent like six hours cleaning,” he said. “I was cleaning since 4 o’clock in the morning.”

His door locks had to be replaced because firefighters broke into the office. Portions of the ceiling were damaged and the office was inoperable without water, he added.

He had to cancel about 30 appointments that day.

Both his and Kouvaros’ businesses have been in the building for 10 years.

Eracleous said he expected to be taking patients again by Monday.

“Hopefully by Monday if they fix the water, if not we’re in trouble,” he said.

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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