Fire forces evacuations of Wilton Wings, Gateway theater in downtown Fort Lauderdale

A fire broke out at the Wilton Wings restaurant in downtown Fort Lauderdale Wednesday morning, forcing the evacuation of the building that includes the iconic Gateway theater.

Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue responded to the building in the 1800 block of East Sunrise Boulevard a little before 9 a.m., according to Battalion Chief Greg May, where they encountered heavy smoke.

The fire remained contained to Wilton Wings Bar and Kitchen, May said, but some smoke traveled into the The Classic Gateway Theater next door, as well as Theos Estiatorio, a Greek restaurant. Both share the building with Wilton Wings.

The Gateway theater, long one of South Florida’s most popular art-house cinemas, opened in 1951 and gained national recognition as the site of the 1960 world premiere of the filmed-in-Fort-Lauderdale Spring Break romp “Where the Boys Are.”

Fort Lauderdale firefighters take a breather while battling a fire Wednesday morning at Wilton Wings on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The adjacent Gateway theater was evacuated during the blaze. Battalion Chief Gregory May said, “The first units in encountered heavy smoke in the interior of the building. Ten units of engines and ladders have been working the last hour to clean things up and make sure everything is out.” The damage was contained to Wilton Wings. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel)

The entire building was evacuated Wednesday, May said, though he didn’t know how many people were there at the time. No one was injured.

Wilton Wings will likely need a complete “overhaul,” said Ted Moses, the property manager for the building, but the theater was not damaged.

Ten units of engines and ladders had worked for the last hour to clean up and make sure everyone was out of the building, May said a little before 11 a.m. Wednesday, as smoke continued to pour out of the doorways. The rightmost lane of East Sunrise Boulevard in front of the building remained blocked off.

The Fort Lauderdale Fire Marshall is investigating the cause of the fire.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.