Investigators in Wallingford are looking into a fire at a Chinese restaurant that nearly destroyed an entire strip mall.
They said the fire broke out at the Hong Kong Chinese Restaurant on East Center Street early Wednesday morning.
"I went outside I said 'oh my God, you can see smoke billowing out!'" said Larry Hurowitz, Fran's Pastry Shoppe. "Then the fire department came."
Larry Hurowitz said he searched his bakery around 12:30 a.m., but couldn't locate the source of the smoke. He said he eventually realized it was coming from the Chinese restaurant a few doors down.
"I get a call about 2:50 from the alarm company and my son has the store four doors down," Larry Hurowitz said.
The fire alarm in the Chinese restaurant never went off, according to firefighters. However, the alarms in the bakery and another restaurant, Rockin' Rob's Seafood, did.
"I thought my store burned down," said Robert Hurowitz, owner of Rockin' Rob's Seafood.
Firefighters credited the alarms with helping to save the rest of the strip mall.
"The fire alarm system, the detection from the other occupants, definitely definitely saved the structure," said Chief Richard Heidgerd, Wallingford Fire Department. "It made for a much more timely response."
Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the kitchen area and prevent it from spreading to the other businesses. The kitchen, however, was badly damaged.
Firefighters said they had to tear into the roof of the business to battle the flames.
No one was hurt.
The smell of smoke lingered after the fire was extinguished.
The building's owner said the building has stood for more than 40 years. It'll likely be a month or two before the restaurant will be able to reopen.
Wallingford's fire marshal said the restaurant passed its most recent inspection in September.
A cause is still being investigated.
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