International District fire costs restaurants big Christmas Day business

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by HEATHER GRAF / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @HeatherGrafK5

KING5.com

Posted on December 25, 2013 at 11:37 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 2 at 2:04 PM

The massive fire that burned a 100-year-old building Tuesday in the International District left a few restaurants and shops in the dark on their busiest day of the year.

On Wednesday, a large section of South King Street remained closed, as firefighters continue to watch the charred structure.  They are worried it could still collapse.

Power to adjacent buildings has been restored, but the lights are still off inside the ground floor businesses of the building that caught fire.  That meant places like Sea Garden and Mon Hei Bakery couldn't open on Christmas Day.

"I think it's probably the busiest night of the year, besides Chinese New Year," said Simon Toung, who delivers food to several International District restaurants.  "It's unfortunate, it's a tragedy, you know. A lot of people were so disappointed."

That includes not just the business owners, but the customers they serve. Restaurants in adjacent buildings lost several hours of business on Christmas Eve, when the fire happened.

"The fireman came in and told us, get out of the building," said Harry Chan, who owns Tai Tung on South King Street.  "Within ten minutes, the power was out."

He says he's grateful his power came back on, at about 9 a.m. Christmas morning.  The same is true of Jade Garden, just down the street.

Both restaurants did big business on Christmas evening, but say they feel for their neighbors.

"Christmas day is busy for everyone in this area," said Chan.  "I feel sorry for them, because I know them really well.  Hopefully they can re-open someday." 

His only comfort is that no one was hurt in the fire.

Chan says that's helping the neighborhood keep things in perspective, as they deal with street closures and limited parking surrounding their businesses.

The Seattle Fire Department says flames and large amounts of water that were used to fight the fire further weakened the structure of the building.  It was already on the city's dangerous buildings list.

Firefighters remained stationed outside, just in case it starts to collapse.

Engineers hope to go inside and inspect the building on Thursday morning.

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