Fire in former Hong Kong building ruled ‘accidental’The cause of the fire that destroyed a building on Avenue C in Cloquet that once housed the Hong Kong Restaurant has been ruled “undetermined” by investigators from the Cloquet Area Fire District (CAFD). According to Battalion Chief Gordy Meagher, the investigation was completed earlier this week.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
The cause of the fire that destroyed a building on Avenue C in Cloquet that once housed the Hong Kong Restaurant has been ruled “undetermined” by investigators from the Cloquet Area Fire District (CAFD). According to Battalion Chief Gordy Meagher, the investigation was completed earlier this week.
“There was a lot of damage done by the fire,” said Meagher, “so we were unable to prove what actually started it.”
Meagher did say, however, that the cause of the fire is not suspicious in origin and that it is being ruled accidental. He said the fire patterns show that the fire started on the west side of the building, but beyond that, investigators were unable to lay claim to an actual cause.
The building, which was still owned by the Lau family who operate the current Hong Kong Restaurant on Highway 33 North, was being used as a temple. The last person to visit the building prior to the fire was reportedly there between 10-10:30 p.m. and had lit incense and oil lamps prior to leaving.
“We have a theory about how it may have started,” said Meagher, “but there is not enough evidence remaining to substantiate that theory.”
Crews from the CAFD were dispatched to the fire at approximately 11:10 p.m. the night of July 2. The first unit to arrive on the scene found heavy smoke coming from the roof and eaves. Bystanders at the scene reported that at one point flames were leaping from the roof some 25 feet in the air.
Fire crews had difficulty fighting the fire because of the old building’s double roof structure and layers of asphalt on the ceiling, and efforts to battle it from the roof and from inside had to be aborted due to safety concerns. Crews on the district’s tower truck sprayed water from above to help preserve the buildings on either side of the burning building and were successful in confining it.
Family members and insurance investigators visited the burned out shell of the building, valued at an estimated $150,000-$200,000, earlier this week. Meagher said it will be up to the insurance investigator and whatever construction professionals are brought in to determine if any of the original structure can be preserved.