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Cooking fire caused half a million dollars of damage to popular Yakima restaurant

Cooking fire caused half a million dollars of damage to popular Yakima restaurant

YAKIMA, Wash.- “She was asking around if someone was cutting onions or something like that,” Joy Garden employee Seong Park said.

It started with a bit of confusion to why people's eyes were burning inside of Joy Garden.

Then there was the smell of something burning, but they couldn't find anything in the kitchen.

That's when someone ran into the building to warn them of what was happening next door.

“At that moment, we didn't understand what was going on. She said fire and then she just kind of bolted out,” Park said. “A minute later a police officer came in.”

Mercedes and Family restaurant was up in smoke, while firefighters from all over the upper valley were trying to put it out.

Park said he was working next door and was surprised to see how close the flames were to his family’s restaurant.

“All I see is people coming out of Mercedes and behind them was smoke coming out. So, it's actually a big fire, so I was kind of scared,” he said.

Firefighters said about a half million dollars of damage was done to the popular Mexican restaurant.

Yakima Fire Shift Commander Jennifer Norton said the blaze started in the kitchen by an explosive reaction of cold oil being placed into hot oil.

“It appears to be a cooking fire. So, they had hot oil that just rapidly ignited and went into the attic area,” she said.

Norton said they had to cut a hole in the roof and shoot water into it from above, because it was too dangerous for firefighters to attack directly.

She said a Mercedes and Family employee suffered a burn on their arm and was treated at a local hospital.

Everyone else made it out safely, but Norton said the damage to the restaurant will be felt for a while.

“They'll be out of business for quite some time. They have extensive damage in their kitchen area,” she said.

Park said the Joy Garden restaurant should be back open on July 16, after they pass a routine inspection from the health department.

He said they'll have fans running inside the restaurant all day to get the smell of smoke out.

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