‘China Hut’ charred in early morning blaze

Firefighters kept the fire from spreading inside. But, its cause seems odd …

Firefighters find smoke and flames at the rear of Centennial’s China Hut Restaurant. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

By David F. Ashton

There was no ice or snow on the ground when Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) was called to the China Hut Restaurant, at 16721 Division Street in the Centennial neighborhood, early on November 13.

With bitter wind in their faces, firefighters arrived to see flames coming from the rear of this long-time outer East Portland establishment. They were quickly backed up by Gresham Fire units – at 4:29 a.m.

All around the restaurant, firefighters work to contain the blaze to the outside of the building. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

Using a “Pike pole”, a crew member works to remove still glowing embers, some of which fly away in the strong wind. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

“Firefighters knocked down the fire on the outside, and began searching the interior of the building for fire,” reported PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Damon Simmons.

Most of the blaze was contained to the exterior of the single-story structure, Simmons said. “And, there were no injuries were associated with this fire.”

Pulling off burned materials that might still contain glowing embers, firefighters “overhaul” the burnt areas of the building. Dick Harris, PF&R photo

When the source of a blaze is obvious, the command staff usually doesn’t call for a fire investigator to come to the scene – but they did in this case.

“A PF&R Investigator reported that this fire was caused by an improperly discarded cigarette,” Simmons said. “It caused $3,300.00 in damage.”

Oddly, the restaurant had been closed for hours, raising the question who was smoking behind the establishment so late at night.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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