Last night, Kearny Mesa’s longstanding China Max Seafood Restaurant was destroyed in a three-alarm blaze that caused $4.5 million in damages to the two-level Chinese restaurant and the surrounding complex, impacting neighboring businesses in the Plaza del Sol center including Yi Fang Taiwan Fruit Tea and Tasty Pot. According to CBS8, two firefighters were hurt battling the fire; no other injuries were reported. Though the dining room is closed, the kitchen was still in operation for takeout service.
Watch video from CBS8 here:
China Max owner Cindy Woo said, “We were devastated to learn about the fire at Plaza Del Sol that destroyed our business as well as others in the building. We are grateful to the San Diego Fire Department and send our best wishes for quick healing to anyone who may have been injured. We are looking forward to their investigation results. We are thankful to our loyal customers and our hardworking employees who have supported us for the last seventeen years. With your help, we are determined to rebuild and reopen as quickly as possible.”
Investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire, although Wesley Quach, Small Business Development Center Director of the Asian Business Association of San Diego (ABASD), says that sources tell him the starting point could be a faulty electrical box. He told Eater, “It is a major blow to the Convoy Street area as China Max is one of its most popular and well-known restaurants. This is terrible timing, but we’re hoping the business will be on the path to recovery soon.” Quach has added staff to assist in the ABASD’s work with local small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis, which includes navigating the various loan and relief funds available and compiling a list Convoy District eateries still open for takeout and delivery.
UPDATE: Eater received a letter from the San Diego Police Department that reads, in part, “To get straight to the point, we received the official conclusion that the fire was completely accidental and was caused by an electrical issue on the overhang in front of the building. When our Metro Arson Strike Team (MAST) investigators conducted their follow-up investigation, they did not find any signs of external or exterior source that would point to arson. Part of their investigation was to obtain video surveillance videos from around the area. They located cameras that had direct view of the area where the fire began. The video was able to show our investigators that after the restaurant was closed for the night, at around 9:30 pm the overhang started smoking for a few minutes before eventually catching fire. The overhang was hollowed wood that surrounded the building so once it caught fire, it travelled quickly throughout the entire property and eventually consuming the entire building.”