I always envisioned the Reef and I growing old together. Life is not fair.
Fire closes King Solomon's Reef in downtown Olympia
OLYMPIA – A kitchen fire started about 7:15 a.m. today at the downtown King Solomon's Reef, filling the restaurant with smoke and causing firefighters to punch at least one hole in the roof as they put out the blaze.
One customer who was in a bathroom when the kitchen fire started missed the initial evacuation of staff and was briefly trapped in the restaurant, Olympia Assistant Fire Chief Greg Wright said. Wright said it’s possible the man could not find his way out because the thick smoke spread quickly throughout the restaurant, limiting visibility.
Firefighters had to break out a front window and drag the man out before he was transported from the scene by an ambulance, neighbor Tammy Worthington said. The man was "pounding on the front windows trying to get out," she said. "They busted the window out and they dragged him out," Worthington said.
Wright said the man was transported to Providence St. Peter Hospital. Wright said he did not believe the man’s injuries were life-threatening because he was able to give a statement to firefighters from the hospital, albeit with a face covered by soot. All of the staff members and about four or five other breakfast customers were able to leave safely, Wright said.
The kitchen fire caused extensive smoke damage and likely will close the restaurant, at least for today, Wright said. Beyond that, Wright did not have details about how long the Reef, a fixture in downtown Olympia for many years, would be closed.
Wright estimated the dollar value of the damages at about $100,000.
Ryan Miyake, who was having a cup of coffee at the Reef when the fire started in the kitchen area, said everyone was calm as the restaurant was evacuated, but the area filled up with smoke quickly.
"I was sitting at the counter and I saw the cook come over to the waitress and say there was a fire," he said. "They just couldn’t get it under control. By the time I got out the door the smoke was mostly at head level."
The fire was quickly extinguished by firefighters from the Olympia Fire Department, Lacey Fire District, East Olympia Fire District 6, North Olympia Fire District 7 and South Bay Fire District 8, Wright said. About 35 to 40 firefighters battled the blaze in all, he said.
Fourth Street was shut down until about 8:30 a.m. because of the firefighting activities. Wright said firefighters punched one or two holes in the roof of the Reef, to allow heat and smoke to escape.
The owner of the Reef, Rich Phillips, was on scene this morning, but said he did not want to immediately comment. Said Wright, "The owner said he’s going to clean it up and get it back open as quickly as he can."