Fort Smith Family Talks About What’s Next After Fire Seriously Damages Restaurant

FORT SMITH (KFSM) - A Fort Smith family who lost a big part of their restaurant to a fire this week allowed 5NEWS inside their business to see the extent of damages done.

Madeline Phan, showed 5NEWS around the kitchen of the Taipei Chinese Restaurant on Friday (June 20th), which is where fire investigators say the fire started.

Phan told us about what went through her mind when she first heard about the fire.

“I was really worried, especially for my mom, because she’s the one in the kitchen,” she explained.

According to Fort Smith Fire Marshall, Carey St. Cyr, the fire started after a wok (pan) was left unattended on one of the stoves with grease in it.

Most of the damage was done to the kitchen; however, the dining area sustained some smoke and water damage, too.

St. Cyr says about $85,000 worth in damages were done in total.

At this point, Phan said the family has started the process of rebuilding and believe it will at least be six months before they can reopen for business.

“On behalf of my family, I just want to thank the entire Fort Smith community for the love, concern, and support during this situation,” Phan said.

St. Cyr says they’re investigating whether the fire suppression system inside the building helped to knock down the grease fire.

The restaurant has been in business for 31 years.  Phan’s grandparents started it when they immigrated from Vietnam as refugees in the late 1970s.

At that point, Vietnamese food wasn’t as mainstream as Chinese food, so they chose to open a Chinese food restaurant.

When it reopens, they will continue the decades-long tradition by mainly serving Chinese food.