Berkeley Fire Department responds to kitchen fire in Downtown

Alice Oh/Staff
Kitchen fire causes $700,000 worth of damage.

A kitchen fire broke out Wednesday evening in downtown Berkeley, resulting in extensive damage to a local restaurant.

Gil Dong, deputy fire chief for the Berkeley Fire Department, said the cooking fire began in the kitchen of Great China Restaurant at 2115 Kittredge St. after hot oil got into the hood of a stove and ignited, eventually spreading beyond the flue system and along the ceiling. Dong said the fire department received notice of the fire at around 9:20 p.m.

No firefighter or civilian injuries were reported because of the fire, Dong said.

The fire was classified as a two-alarm fire at 10:05 p.m., according to Dong. Smoke continued to emerge from the building at approximately 10:20 p.m., but as of 10:40 p.m., there was no more smoke visible from the street.

At around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dong said firefighters were still checking for hot spots in the building by opening walls in the building and exposing any areas that were adjacent to the kitchen to make sure there were no hidden fires.

Dong said Razan’s Organic Kitchen — which is located at 2119 Kittredge St. in the same building as Great China — lost power as a result of the fire and had to be cleared by the city’s Environmental Health Division before it could reopen, though it did not sustain any damage. Razan’s reopened Thursday after it was cleared.

The Environmental Health Division is called whenever there is a fire in a restaurant to do an evaluation determining what food has been exposed to the fire and must be discarded, Dong said.

Great China sustained about $700,000 in damages and will be closed for a while, according to Dong. Of those damages, about $500,000 resulted from structural damages, and $200,000 resulted from damages to contents of the restaurant, like food and other items.

Smoke from the fire set off alarms at the Oxford Plaza housing complex, forcing residents of the complex to evacuate, according to Dong.

Additionally, Dong said, one of the fire engines that responded to the scene was parked in front of a nearby parking garage and consequently delayed people from removing their cars from the garage until after midnight.


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Kelly Fang, Weiru Fang, Kevin Foote and Oksana Yurovsky contributed to this report.

Soumya Karlamangla is the city news editor.