Beloved neighborhood bar burns in South Park

Local

SAN DIEGO — A kitchen fire broke out at a South Park bar early Wednesday.

The blaze was reported around 5:30 a.m. at Hamilton’s Tavern in the 1500 block of 30th Street, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

When firefighters arrived, they found smoke coming from inside the building, fire department spokeswoman Monica Munoz said.

Firefighters forced entry to get to the flames in the bar’s kitchen and knocked down the fire within 25 minutes, Munoz said. No one was inside the building, which also houses South Park Brewing Company.

The fire caused an estimated $500,000 in damage to the building and $500,000 damage to its contents, Munoz said.

Investigators were working to determine the cause of the blaze.

Neighbors were sad to hear of the fire Wednesday.

“Hamilton’s is kind of like a neighborhood establishment; it’s been there a long time,” said Hilary Hastings, who lives nearby in South Park

Before it was Hamilton’s it was Sparky’s, one of the oldest buildings in town — open since at least the 1950’s.

“When you’re driving down here, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘What can it be, was the stove left on?’” said bar owner Scot Blair, describing his bleary-eyed scramble to get to the pub that morning.

“You think it’s electrical because that’s something that happens from time to time and then you think something nefarious, somebody’s trying to break into the building and burn it down. You just don’t know.”

“I’m at a loss for words seeing this place with smoke coming from it,” said Jessica Lambard, a bartender.

She said the bar was like a home, and the owners like family. She’s worked at the two businesses for nearly a decade. With the pandemic forcing closures left and right for restaurants, she wonders where she’ll find work next.

“I would love to know,” she said. “I’m a bartender. As far as hospitality goes, we don’t know what to do. We are all questioning the last 12 years of my job experience and choices.”

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