WELLINGTON — A space heater is the likely cause of a fire that broke out in an apartment above Happy Valley Chinese Restaurant on Saturday.
Fire Lt. Bill Brown said police first saw smoke coming from the top of the building at 111 E. Herrick Ave. and called for help about 11:15 a.m.
Firefighters immediately evacuated the restaurant and neighboring buildings — All Ohio Train and Toy Company and a resale shop — and ran up the stairs of the restaurant to where flames were burning in the apartment.
No one was injured and the fire didn’t spread to other units, Brown said, but there was significant smoke and water damage in the restaurant. The smell of smoke lingered on Herrick Avenue into late afternoon on Saturday as firefighters put caution tape in front of the businesses, where doors and windows had been blown out or broken.
Dimitri’s Corner Restaurant, at 103 E. Herrick Ave., was able to remain open.
Once the fire was put out, Mark Fundak, who owns building and All Ohio Train, said Happy Valley likely would be closed for a while. He also said the tenant who lives above it and owned Happy Valley would not be able to move back in for a while because the apartment was gutted.
Above All Ohio Train, Fundak had a space that he used to take photos of some of his items. He said it was “pretty much literally destroyed.”
“I had left my cell phone on my dresser this morning and got back about noon, and there was a voicemail on my cell phone and it was the police chief telling me to get out here as fast as I could,” Fundak said.
Among knick-knacks and collectibles, ceiling tiles and insulation covered the floor in the space above All Ohio Train, but Fundak said “luckily the downstairs was spared.”
He and a friend were cutting pieces of wood to board the restaurant until his insurance company could assess the damage.
Fundak, who has owned the building since 1995, said he’s had one other fire in his years of owning the building.