PORTAGE | Santini's Pepper Pot Pizza, in the 3200 block of Willowcreek Road, was heavily damaged during a fire early Wednesday.
Firefighters were still on the scene about 10 a.m. Wednesday ventilating the building.
Assistant Fire Chief Dan Kodicek said they were still working to make the scene safe so that investigators could enter the building to determine the cause.
From the outside, there was little damage to the restaurant, which is located in a strip mall in Willowcreek Plaza. That area of the strip mall also houses a convenience store and hair salon. Those businesses were not damaged and can reopen for business, Kodicek said.
A Portage police officer spotted smoke in the area of Lute and Willowcreek roads about 4 a.m. Wednesday. He found a large amount of smoke coming from the vents at the restaurant.
When firefighters arrived, they found heavy smoke in the restaurant and light smoke in the adjacent Kwik-Mart. Fire crews forced entry into the restaurant and found intense heat and smoke in the kitchen area.
Fire crews struck the fire quickly. The fire was contained to the restaurant. Light smoke was removed from the Kwik-Mart to the west and Hair Express to the east. No fire extension or damage was found in the adjoining businesses.
Ogden Dunes, Burns Harbor and Union Fire covered Portage stations and South Haven Fire assisted at the scene.
Santini's Pizza will remain closed due to extensive fire and smoke damage.