by Jim Boyle
A Feb. 20 kitchen fire at the Hong Kong Buffet in Elk River has closed the doors to the popular Chinese restaurant while repairs to the businesses exhaust system can be made.
Elk River Police and Fire were called to the business at 3:50 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 on a report of a possible fire. A member of Elk River Fire Department reported seeing heavy smoke from ventilation system at 600 Dodge Avenue and believed there was possibly a fire in the kitchen of the restaurant.
Police officers responded and observed the described smoke and visible flames emitting from rooftop ventilation system. Officers evacuated all customers and employees from the restaurant and closed all doors to contain the fire that appeared to be limited to the kitchen. Elk River Fire responded and took over the scene.
Elk River Fire Chief Mark Dickinson confirmed the fire started a grease hood. He said firefighters did a good job of knocking the fire down and limiting the blaze to the kitchen area and exhaust system that goes to the roof.
“It could have been much worse,” Dickinson told the Star News.
The fire chief speculated that the restaurant wouldn’t have to be closed for too long, but said the system will have to be replaced so it could drag on for a number of days depending on various factors.
The restaurant’s voicemail system at the restaurant on the afternoon of Feb. 22 informed customers they are unavailable “due to remodeling” and advised people to “please call us back at a later date.”
The front parking lot at the restaurant has been deserted aside from a stream of cars coming to eat and finding it closed. Signs on the window apologized for the inconvenience but stated the restaurant was closed due to the remodeling of the building.