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California

Electrical problem sparked Anaheim White House blaze, officials say

About 40 firefighters from Anaheim, Orange, Garden Grove and Fullerton responded to a fire sparked by an electrical problem at the Anaheim White House on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017.

Nearly 60 firefighters from Anaheim, Orange, Garden Grove and Fullerton responded to a fire at the Anaheim White House restaurant on Saturday.

(Nick Agro / Associated Press)

An early morning blaze that severely damaged the Anaheim White House restaurant last week was the result of an electrical problem, authorities said Thursday.

Saturday’s blaze caused more than $1 million in damage to the 1909 Colonial-style mansion and its contents, Anaheim Police Department spokesman Sgt. Daron Wyatt said.

Investigators determined the fire was “accidental in nature,” Wyatt said.

When Anaheim Fire & Rescue arrived at the iconic restaurant at 887 S. Anaheim Blvd., flames and smoke were pouring from the roof of the historic building. Nearly 60 firefighters knocked down the worst of the blaze in about 30 minutes and continued fighting hot spots for several more hours.

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“I gave all my life, all my blood — everything about me was in there for 30 years, and to see that disappear in two hours because of a fire is very, very sad,” Bruno Serato, who has owned the Italian steakhouse and seafood restaurant since 1987, said the morning of the fire. “I was devastated.”

In its three decades, the White House had entertained a host of celebrities and other notables, from former President Jimmy Carter to opera star Andrea Bocelli and singer Gwen Stefani. Former President George W. Bush dined there when he was still governor of Texas.

But Serato may be most widely known for starting Caterina’s Club — named for his mother — which serves fresh pasta to the children of low-income families. The charity feeds about 2,000 children each day, according to Serato.

A GoFundMe page started to help cover some of the cost of rebuilding the restaurant and aid employees has raised more than $125,000 in five days.

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hannah.fry@latimes.com

Twitter:  @HannahFryTCN 

 

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