Palace open after blaze

Xi Chen in the kitchen of his restaurant, Oriental Palace where a fire broke out in the extractor fan.
Xi Chen in the kitchen of his restaurant, Oriental Palace where a fire broke out in the extractor fan.
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A RESTAURANT owner is getting his business back on track after a kitchen blaze.

Xi Chen, owner of the Oriental Palace Chinese restaurant, in St Thomas Street, Sunderland, told how he tried to being the fire under control after it broke out in an extractor fan.

Despite the chef’s efforts to get last Thursday’s fire under control with an extinguisher, the blaze took hold and customers were quickly evacuated.

Mr Chen, 30, from Newcastle, said he was shocked to hear that his new business was on fire.

“My mind just went blank. The first thing I wanted to know was is everything OK, that’s the most important thing.

“I spoke to the chef and it seemed like he stayed calm and tried to put out the fire but couldn’t get the extinguisher to work.”

The fire service were called after a customer noticed smoke coming from the kitchen.

It took the fire service about 15 minutes to put the fire out and nobody was hurt during the incident.

Xi added: “We closed while we got a new extractor fan installed but have now reopened.

“I think we will only lose a little bit of money from being shut a couple of days.

“The insurance will cover everything so I don’t think it will have much of an effect on the business.”

The restaurant only opened eight months ago but Mr Chen says that business so far has been good.

“We do a lot of traditional Chinese cuisine and we get a lot of students coming to eat here,” said Mr Chen.

Watch manager Ian Gicquel, of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, said of the incident: “We have had to deal with several fires at restaurants and takeaways in the area recently, and this highlights the importance of fire safety education.

“Kitchen cooking equipment and extraction units should be kept clean and well maintained at all times.

“If there is a fire, the gas and electricity supply should be turned off.”

Mr Gicquel also passed on advice to restaurant workers should a fire occur.

“If a fire is well developed, you should never attempt to tackle it and you should get out, stay out and call 999,” he said.

“It is also very important to carry out thorough staff training and practice regular fire drills so they are aware of what to do in the event of a fire.

“It is only hoped that raising awareness of this will prevent fire deaths and injuries in the future.”

Twitter: @sunechohannah