ITHACA, N.Y. — The Ithaca Fire Department responded to the 200 block of Dryden Road early Wednesday morning after receiving reports of a strong smokey odor in a multi-unit building.

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Firefighters arrived at 3:15 a.m. to the 208 Dryden Road — a building with apartments and businesses — and were told that multiple residents smelled the smoke but could not locate it.

Officials said an over-boiled pot of water on a stove at the Hai Hong Restaurant filled the eatery with caustic smoke. The building was ventilated and tested for carbon monoxide levels before residents were allowed back into their homes.

No injuries were reported at the scene.

The Ithaca Fire Department released the following information about the incident: 

An early morning fire alarm in Collegetown put residents in the streets as firefighters searched for the cause of smoke on multiple floors.

The call came in to Tompkins County 911 at 3:15 am Wednesday morning for a fire alarm at 208 Dryden Road.

When crews arrived, many residents were outside saying they smelled smoke, but no one knew the cause.

While firefighters searched the smokey five story structure room by room for the source of the smoke, they came across many occupants still in their rooms. They were helped outside while the search for the smoke continued.

A third engine from the South hill station was called to the scene to assist those on Dryden Road. While searching the storefronts on the ground level of the apartment complex, the Ladder Company found the Hai Hong Restaurant full of smoke.

The cause was a pot boiled over on the stove that pumped caustic smoke into the eatery and filled the apartments above. Crews shut down the stove, and ventilated the restaurant while others went floor by floor in the apartments to clear the smoke and check for carbon monoxide.

No one was injured and the owner of the building was notified of the situation. Fire crews were back in service around 4:15 am.

Fire Officials credit the working alarm system for the early notification and a quick response from the department, but they remind residents to always evacuate to a safe area when a fire alarm sounds.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.