[Groop] More Bad News
ericchun at hotmail.com
Tue Jul 22 18:39:35 PDT 2008
Several of the "Did I Err" t-shirt wearing crew ate here before:
Fire guts landmark Kansas City Barbeque
By Greg Gross and Susan Shroder
UNION-TRIBUNE BREAKING NEWS TEAM
4:37 p.m. June 26, 2008
SAN DIEGO – A fire that started in an open cooking pit Thursday at
Kansas City Barbeque gutted the landmark Marina area eatery, known for
being in the 1986 Tom Cruise movie “Top Gun.”
The fire broke out about 2:15 p.m. in the restaurant on West Market
Street, located across the street from the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel
towers and near Seaport Village. It initially created so much smoke
that clouds of it could be seen billowing behind Petco Park, where the
Padres were playing an afternoon baseball game.
A restaurant cook told firefighters the blaze flared up from
inside the cooking pit and spread to the rest of the restaurant's
interior, despite his efforts to put it out.
A force of six engine companies and two truck companies, 45
firefighters in all, managed to keep the blaze from spreading to an
adjoining office building and had the fire knocked down in about 20
But there was no saving the restaurant.
“It's gutted,” said Maurice Luque, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department spokesman. “It's destroyed.”
The restaurant, which serves food such as barbecue ribs and chicken,
was used for a bar scene in “Top Gun” where Cruise crooned to love
target Kelly McGillis, and a sign in the restaurant noted that the jet
jockey movie's “sleazy bar scene” was filmed there.
Luque estimated damage at $250,000 to the structure and
$150,000 to the contents, not including the cost of decades of
memorabilia, including photographs and props from the film. Dozens of
Navy caps and license plates hung on walls and ceilings.
Firefighters found Navy flight helmets inside the dining area – melted.
“It must've been a very intense fire,” Luque said. “You can see where the fire swirled around, then just took everything out.”
No one was injured. The only people inside at the time were five
employees, including the cook. A few patrons were sitting on the patio
outside; they quickly fled as the flames ravaged the interior.
Another cook, Charles Ryan, 53, was taking a break outside when
he saw the smoke billowing out the front door. But he wasn't alarmed –
“I've seen pit fires before. They're manageable,” said Ryan,
who has worked at the restaurant for about six years. “Normally, you
can put these things out; I've had a few of them myself. There's a hose
right next to the pit.”
This time, however, the fire couldn't be contained. In the
seconds it took Ryan to re-enter the establishment, “the whole kitchen
was on fire and it was spreading out into the dining area,” he said.
Sandra Angelo, a magazine columnist and author, lives across
the street from the restaurant on the 12th floor of City Front Terrace,
a condominium complex.
She said her unit has a 280-degree view of downtown and San
Diego Bay, and she was working at home typing a book when she saw smoke
coming out of the chimney in the middle of the restaurant. She said it
then got a little thicker, and “I just thought they were being a little
enthusiastic with their barbecuing.”
But within minutes, she said the smoke became very thick.
“It was just tons and tons of smoke,” she said, adding that it
was “billowing out of every single window” and was as high as a nearby
Railroad tracks used by the San Diego trolley and the Coaster
commuter train run right behind the back of the restaurant. Had there
been a freight train going by, it would have taken firefighters an
extra 12 to 15 minutes to put the blaze out, Luque said.
Rob Schupp, a spokesman for Metropolitan Transit District, said
trolley service in the area was stopped for about 10 minutes while the
fire was extinguished.
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