By Pat Maurer
The China King Restaurant at 406 East 5th Street in Clare was completely destroyed in a fire on Saturday, Jan. 29th.
The Clare Fire Department was called at 10:22 a.m. when a passerby saw flames coming out of the roof top “hood vent,” and called it in. Firefighters were able to arrive in just four minutes because they were at the station for training on the department’s new fire engine, Clare Fire Chief Jim Chapman said.
Nearly 30 firefighters from three fire departments, Clare, Surrey Township and Harrison, fought the blaze for an hour and a half before it was under control, Chapman said. Firefighters were on the scene for three hours.
Chapman said fire was shooting out of the roof top vent when they arrived. He said firefighters immediately got up on the roof and extinguished the blaze coming from the vent, then went into the building and extinguished the kitchen fire. Their efforts were hampered when the ceiling started falling in because the fire had spread into the attic of the business, he added.
“They had to get out,” Chapman said. “They continued to fight the blaze from outside the building after that.”
He said the extremely cold temperatures hampered their efforts too. “We connected 400 feet of hose to the nearest fire hydrant, then found the hydrant was frozen so we had to set up a portable drop tank and haul water from the hydrant near the fire station,” he said.
“The fire was under control within an hour and a half, but cleanup took us another hour and a half before we were able to clear the scene,” the Chief added.
The building, which was owned by Yi Ke Huang, was completely gutted and all of the contents destroyed in the weekend fire.
Clare Fire Chief Jim Chapman said the restaurant business owner Shan Chun Zhang and his brother were inside at the time that the fire started. He said, the fire, which is believed to be accidental, started in the kitchen after the men had started cooking. They were in the dining area for breakfast when the fire erupted.
Clare firemen were also assisted at the scene by the Clare Police Department and Mobile Medical Response Ambulance Service. “We were lucky because no one was injured during the fire,” Chapman said. He added his thanks for the coffee and donuts from Cops and Doughnuts downtown which gave the tired firefighters a short break to warm up.
He said that both the building and the business inside were insured.
Chapman noted that this was the second time the new engine made a run and the first time it was used at a structure fire. “It performed perfectly,” he added.