Blaze inflicts $40K in damage to Lapellah Restaurant

Grand Central eatery evacuated after fire breaks out in rooftop flue




A fire that reportedly started inside a rooftop smoke flue forced evacuation of Lapellah Restaurant just as happy hour ended Tuesday.

The fire, which caused an estimated $40,000 in damage, was reported at 5:51 p.m. and the first engine arrived just four minutes later, said Firefighter-spokesman Joe Spatz with the Vancouver Fire Department.

Spatz said he was told there had been a fire in a section of double-walled stainless steel duct that runs up through the roof and turns parallel to the roof. The fire did not spread to the building itself.

The restaurant is at 2520 Columbia House Blvd., Suite 108. It features an open-design kitchen with a wood-fired grill.

Firefighters arrived to smell light smoke in the restaurant, according to radio traffic monitored at The Columbian.

The restaurant was evacuated while firefighters worked.

Spatz said an investigator told him damage was estimated at $40,000. The fire is believed to be unintentional and was blamed on a buildup of deposits inside the duct. The deposits were ignited by the heat from cooking.

The restaurant’s owner and chef, David Mork, said he’d just had the system cleaned last week.

Mork said he hopes to reopen by 4 p.m. Wednesday, adding that he had reservations he didn’t want to cancel.

Lapellah is in the Grand Central shopping development, which is anchored by a Fred Meyer store and is visible from Highway 14. It shares a building with several other businesses, which did not have to be evacuated. Vancouver and Clark County Fire District 6 firefighters were dispatched to the fire.

Fire commanders ordered a commercial response, which calls for, at first, sending six engines and two ladder trucks. Once the extent of the problem was known, many of those rigs were sent back to stations, Spatz said.

The restaurant, which has been reviewed as one of the best in Clark County, is known for its food that reflects Native American heritage and Pacific Northwest traditions. It opened in December 2008.