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Tokyo Buffet remains closed in Citrus Heights, following fire

Tokyo Buffet on Greenback Lane remains closed, following a fire earlier this month. // Thomas J. Sullivan

By Thomas J. Sullivan–
Tokyo Buffet, a popular buffet restaurant at 7217 Greenback Ln., remains closed due to a fire earlier this month that prompted evacuation of the restaurant during afternoon dining hours.

Efforts by The Sentinel to contact restaurant management by telephone and email to determine when, or if, the location will re-open, were unsuccessful.

Metro Fire responded to the call of a kitchen fire at Tokyo Buffet Restaurant on Tuesday, Aug., 6 at 4:21 p.m. All patrons were safely evacuated, as some 33 fire personnel, including two battalion chiefs, five engines, three ladder trucks and an EMT unit responded to the call.

No injuries were reported.

Capt. Chris Vestal, Metro Fire public information officer said the likely cause of the fire was due to the general failure of the restaurant’s kitchen hood fire extinguishing system, which at the time of the fire was inoperable. Nozzles in a commercial kitchen fire suppression system are generally installed in the kitchen hood exhaust, and quickly discharge directly over the source of fire when it occurs, he said.

According to Metro Fire, the blaze caused damage to the restaurant’s heating, ventilation and cooling system. No estimation of the total amount of damage was available. A small pile of charred fire debris and yellow tape could be seen piled up next to the restaurant’s front door, as of last week.

“There’s a fair amount of general water and smoke damage to the inside of the restaurant, but nothing which once repaired, could prevent the restaurant from reopening,” Vestal said.

A red tag “Unsafe to Enter” tag dated Aug. 6 on the restaurant front door was signed and placed by Greg Anderson, chief building official for the city.

“The owners will need to submit their plans for the fire repair,” Anderson told The Sentinel.

Under city municipal code, due to fire damage, the restaurant was found to be “substandard, hazardous and/or unsanitary.” It is currently unlawful to occupy or allow occupancy of the restaurant building without inspection by the city.

According to Anderson, the owners “may enter to repair, demolish or remove under permit with written city authorization.” No building permits to perform fire repairs have been filed with the city.

The city’s red tag will remain in place until required repairs, demolition or removal are completed and a certificate of occupancy is then granted, Anderson said.

“The owner’s design firm and contractor will need to come up with the scope of work for the fire damage repairs. It’s largely up to them,” Anderson said.

Upon completion of repairs, the restaurant would have to be re-inspected by Metro Fire and the city building department to be certified to reopen, Vestal said.

The restaurant had been inspected by the Sacramento County of Environmental Management Department on May 29, 2019 and received a passing grade. A previous inspection was conducted in November 2018.

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