Hundreds of pedestrians stopped to watch as firefighters fought a fire at a popular eatery in the ByWard Market yesterday.

A fire broke out at the Courtyard Restaurant at 21 George St. just before noon, closing down George Street between Sussex Drive and William Street for several hours.

Staff reported the fire after seeing flames come from a ventilation system above the cooking appliances in the kitchen.

The Ottawa fire department responded with 12 vehicles and 35 firefighters, said spokesman Marc Messier.

“The fire was caught in between two floors,” said Messier.

There were no clients inside at the time, but there were about 10 customers outside on the patio, he said.

One of the staff members suffered from smoke inhalation. He was treated at the scene and released.

The fire was confined to the exhaust system. It was under control by 12:48 p.m., but firefighters spent several hours to ensure no fire remained in the walls or the floor. Damage is estimated at about $250,000.

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