By Doug Oakley
BERKELEY -- Flames from a heated wok at a downtown Chinese restaurant spread out of control Wednesday night, causing $700,000 damage and closing the eatery, a fire official said Thursday.
No injuries were reported.
The fire in the kitchen of Great China restaurant on Kittredge Street leapt into the chimney over the stove and ignited grease caked inside it, said Berkeley Assistant Fire Chief Gil Dong.
The fire then went into the roof and the ceiling of the restaurant's dining room and scorched the Oxford Plaza apartment building next to it, Dong said. Razan's Organic Kitchen next door also felt the heat but was not damaged, he said.
"The cook and several employees tried to put the fire out in the flu above the stove with fire extinguishers, but once it was inside there it got out of control," Dong said.
When firefighters arrived just after 9:20 p.m., they put the fire in the chimney out, but it took them another hour and a half to put out the flames that had spread to the ceiling and roof, he said.
"It's hard when you have to chase the fire through the walls," Dong said. "We didn't want it to relight."
Dong said Great China will remain closed until it can repair its ceiling and roof. Razan's Organic was given the OK to reopen Thursday morning, he said.
Dong said fire trucks had to block
the entrance and exit to an underground parking lot in the Oxford Plaza next door, so people who parked their cars there could not leave until after midnight when the fire department packed up and left.
Both restaurants were evacuated during the fire, although there were not many customers at that hour.
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.