Berkeley Fire Department responds to fire at KC’s Bar-B-Que

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Berkeley Fire Department received a call early Friday morning about a fire at a local restaurant in West Berkeley.

According to BFD Deputy Fire Chief David Brannigan, BFD received a call about a “significant fire” at KC’s Bar-B-Que at 2613 San Pablo Ave. about 12:32 a.m. Friday. Firefighters were able to get the fire under control about an hour later.

“(The fire) was mostly contained in the back of the building, although it was a very intense heat, so it took a while to knock the whole thing down,” Brannigan said. “Most of the structure was impacted and there is extensive damage.”

Brannigan said no firefighters were injured in the fire. He added that because no civilians were in the building at the time, no one was harmed.

Although the cause and origin of the fire are undetermined, BFD’s Fire Prevention Bureau is conducting an investigation, according to Brannigan. Brannigan said, however, that BFD believes the fire started in the kitchen area because that was the area that was “mostly on fire” when firefighters arrived on the scene.

“The rear of the building is where the kitchen area is … That was fully involved when we got there … (There was) fire everywhere in that room, so it’s been gutted,” Brannigan said. “The front area has a lot of smoke damage and water damage from the fire fight itself, but not a lot of direct flame in the front half of the building. But it’s still very badly damaged.”

Brannigan added that KC’s Bar-B-Que has been a part of the Berkeley community for a long time. He said he believed the restaurant just celebrated its 50th anniversary and is a local family business.

“The building is badly damaged,” Brannigan said. “So they’re not going to be in business for a while.”

Campus senior Alex Koch was driving home from work on San Pablo Avenue when he and his friends saw the glow from the fire trucks and pulled over to observe the fire.

“When we arrived it was pretty intense flames — I would say, like, 8 feet in the air,” Koch said. “Then, within maybe 5 to 10 minutes, the fire department had taken care of the flames and extinguished them, in the air at least.”

Koch said he noticed a few people in the area who “seemed quite distressed” as they watched the fire.

He added that he and his friends were concerned for KC’s Bar-B-Que, and he expressed their hope that the restaurant would be rebuilt quickly.

“We were just kind of devastated and … shocked to see a small business go up in flames,” Koch said. “We hope that the owner and business get a speedy recovery. We can’t imagine what it would be like for your business to go up in flames — literally.”

Chantelle Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.