Two-alarm restaurant fire blamed on wok cooking

February 15, 2010 4:02:08 PM PST
A two-alarm fire destroyed a popular restaurant in Houston's midtown. Fire broke out at Mai's Restaurant on Milam at Holman shortly before 11am. Flames could be seen shooting through the roof and out second story windows. A portion of the roof collapsed in on itself.

Firefighters went into defensive mode, applying water only from outside the building. Crews were pulled off the roof for safety reasons.

According to Karen Dupont with the Houston Fire Department, all patrons and employees were able to exit safely. No injuries have been reported.

Arson investigators have ruled the fire was accidental. Restaurant employees were cooking when a wok caught fire. They used a fire extinguisher on the flames, but didn't realize the fire had jumped to the vent and spread from there.

Mai's Restaurant was established in 1978, serving Vietnamese cuisine. The Lunar New Year, commonly called the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Tiger, was celebrated on Sunday. At the time the fire broke out, restaurant employees were enjoying a New Year celebration inside the establishment. No other customers were in the building.

The owner tells Eyewitness News she plans to rebuild.