NEW CASTLE — A misfortune that befell China Banquet Sunday will keep the restaurant closed until late January.
Fire broke out between the ceiling and roof of the restaurant at 105 N. Jefferson St. around 6:30 p.m., causing about $30,000 in smoke and water damage, according to city fire reports.
About 20 customers were eating dinner when smoke started to pour into the restaurant from the ceiling. The restaurant staff quickly evacuated the building, according to assistant New Castle fire chief Mike Kobbe.
He said New Castle firefighters called for more manpower when they saw smoke billowing from the front windows.
Kobbe said the fire, which broke out between the false ceiling and the roof, was quickly extinguished. Fans were used to clear smoke from the inside of the building.
Firefighters broke two front windows to gain access to the fire, explained Brent Lin, the son of the restaurant owner. Lin was inside the closed business with his family yesterday morning. They were already making plans for cleanup and remodeling.
Lin said they plan to reopen by early February at the latest, but said he was hopefull it will happen before that.
The fire department said the cause appears to have been accidental and electrical in nature, Kobbe said.
Lin, standing outside of the business yesterday, pointed up to the China Banquet sign and said that the fire broke out right around where the “Q” is, on the front of the building.
“The night before, we had a big wind and rains and water hit a wire somewhere and it burst,” he said, adding that was what the police told him.
The inside of the restaurant was dark yesterday, as the power was shut off, and the damp air smelled strongly of smoke.
This was the second time this year that fire broke out at the restaurant. On Feb. 3, a small fire smoldered around the heating unit on the roof, and the restaurant’s interior sustained smoke and water damage.
“Hopefully, we’ll get it open again soon,” Lin said.