Restaurant Closes After Fire Causes Serious Damage - NECN
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Restaurant Closes After Fire Causes Serious Damage

Firefighters kept the flames contained in the Wallingford restaurant where they started, but it was still a close call for nearby business owners. (Published Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016)

A Wallingford Chinese restaurant will be closed for the near future after a kitchen fire caused serious damage early Wednesday morning. 

Firefighters responded to Hong Kong Chinese, at 822 East Center Street, after receiving a call from an alarm company around 3 a.m. reporting a smoke detector in the building going off. When crews arrived, the restaurant's kitchen was ablaze and it took about half an hour to extinguish the fire. 

The restaurant was empty at the time of fire, so no one was hurt and firefighters were able to contain the flames to the restaurant.

The strip mall has eight to 10 businesses and the owner of the nearby Fran’s Bakery was working overnight and he was the first one to realize what was happening.

“I ran outside and I looked, I said, ‘Oh my God, the place is just billowing with smoke,’” Larry Hurowitz said.

Smoke did make it into some of the businesses near the Chinese restaurant, so firefighters opened the doors to those stores and said the fire didn't spread beyond the kitchen into the restaurant.

"The fire was contained to the kitchen area and it didn’t get into the restaurant portion," Wallingford Fire Chief Richard Heidgerd said. "So, luckily there’s not a lot of structural damage to the building. That’s what’s allowing the other occupants to be in business today."

Mike's Barber Shop, however, will not be opening today.

"I’ll be open tomorrow, once we get this place cleaned up," Mike Falcigno, the owner of Mike’s Barbershop, said. 

Hong Kong Chinese won't be opening any time soon due to the damage, according to fire officials. 

"We were able to keep the power on, which is important to the protection of food, and again, with the clearance of the health department, that allows them to open for business," Heidgerd said.

The health inspector for Wallingford also responded. 

Fire investigators believe the fire was electrical and started in the kitchen, but the exact cause is not yet known.

The road the fire was on was closed earlier in the morning, but it has since reopened. The scene has cleared. 

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