ITHACA, N.Y.—An observant staff member at a Commons restaurant helped the Ithaca Fire Department prevent too much damage after a fire was found in the building’s walls.

According to IFD spokesperson Jim Wheal, smoke in a building was reported around 8:35 p.m. Wednesday night, filtering from the basement up to the third floor. An employee detected faint smoke in the basement and called the department to the scene. There were no injuries and the restaurant, which was not specified, suffered “a minimum amount of damage.”

Wheal said firefighters used thermal imaging to find the fire in a first-floor wall, which took about 30 minutes to find. It was then extinguished. The cause of the fire is not yet known, but Wheal said the department’s investigation is ongoing.

Cayuga Heights and Lansing Fire both stood by for additional calls in Ithaca, and Bangs Ambulance responded to the scene.

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Managing Editor at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at