Grease fire likely cause of Tahoe City blaze |

Grease fire likely cause of Tahoe City blaze

Melissa Siig

TAHOE CITY – The blaze that damaged Lakehouse Pizza and destroyed Mandarin Villa in Tahoe City Aug. 4 was caused by a grease fire in a pizza oven, a preliminary investigation by the North Tahoe Fire Protection District found.

Employees used seven fire extinguishers, but could not control the fire. The flames traveled up the oven’s flue to the duct system into the Chinese restaurant’s attic, igniting the wooden roof, fire officials said.

“Upstairs is 100 percent fire loss, it was gutted,” said Operations Division Chief Rod Collins, who was incident commander.

Lakehouse suffered some water damage and minimal smoke and fire damage. “It was a tough battle in there,” Collins said.

The cost of the damages has not been determined. Greg Greene, owner of Lakehouse Pizza and the Eggschange, housed in the same restaurant, said he plans to rebuild immediately. Greene also owns Steamers’ Bar & Grill in Kings Beach.

The Lakehouse fire is the third fire to destroy a North Shore business in less than two months. Kings Beach’s North End Restaurant caught fire on July 27 because of overloaded electrical wiring, and the Cobblestone Center’s rear building was severely damaged due to a fire on June 12, also attributed to faulty electrical wiring, fire officials said.

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“I can’t recall this many commercial fires in a short amount of time in the last 10 years,” said NTFPD Chief Duane Whitelaw.

Last week’s Tahoe City fire, reported around 7:20 p.m., was under control an hour later. Around 40 firefighters from Tahoe City, Incline Village, Northstar, Truckee and Squaw Valley responded. Both restaurants, which were full, had to be evacuated. Whitelaw estimates that around 175 people were in the building at the time of the fire. No one was injured in the blaze.