WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A three-alarm fire early Wednesday morning, April 12, 2023, caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to a beloved Wichita Falls restaurant already closed due to a fire just over one month prior.
According to Jody Ashlock, Assistant Fire Marshal with the Wichita Falls Fire Department, firefighters were dispatched to the China Star buffet, located in the 1000 block of Central Freeway at around 12:21 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
Ashlock said upon arrival at the scene, the Battalion Chief stated the fire was showing from the rear of the structure and quickly instructed dispatch to activate a signal 103, elevating the fire to a three-alarm fire and requesting additional manpower and equipment to battle the blaze.
According to Ashlock, firefighters began to fight the fire after entering the building through a door that was found to be open. They said the fire spread to the attic and to the drop ceiling.
Ashlock said it took WFFD personnel on the scene about an hour to get the fire under control. He said the Wichita Falls Police Department and the Wichita County Sheriff’s Office were also on the scene to assist.
WFFD officials said WCSO deputies in the area called the fire in after they saw smoke coming from the restaurant while serving a warrant. Deputies said the back door of the building was open when they arrived at the scene, but they did not see anyone on the premises.
According to Ashlock, the fire originated in the kitchen and did a substantial amount of structural damage and smoke damage throughout the building.
Officials said the kitchen had already been damaged by a grease fire on March 10, 2023. According to Ashlock, the owner of China Star said they’ve been closed since the fire in March and were in the process of remodeling.
In all, 14 WFFD units and 30 firefighters battled the blaze. According to Ashlock, no injuries were reported by WFFD members or bystanders.
Ashlock said the building sustained around $250,000 in damages. An estimated $50,000 of additional damage was caused to contents within the building, according to Ashlock.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
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