Chico's Restaurant owner Grant Murphy (left), of
Queenstown, and fire investigator Mike Cahill, of
Invercargill, with the vegetable crates that caught fire at
the back of the 35-year-old Queenstown restaurant on Sunday
night.Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
The quick actions of a head chef saved a 35-year-old
Queenstown restaurant and bar from being destroyed by fire on
Chico's Restaurant owner Grant Murphy said yesterday his head
chef, who he declined to name, noticed the fire on an
external balcony at the rear of the restaurant about 9.45pm.
After alerting the restaurant manager - who evacuated the one
table of diners remaining and notified the neighbouring
Captain's Restaurant - the chef then attempted to bring a
flaming stack of plastic vegetable crates under control with
four fire extinguishers, assisted by staff from neighbouring
premises Bardeaux and Searle Lane and Social.
He was later taken to Lakes District Hospital and treated for
smoke inhalation but released yesterday, Mr Murphy said.
Queenstown Fire Service station officer Dion Halmshaw said
when officers arrived the fire had already been ''knocked
down'' by two chefs using dry-powder extinguishers.
''The two chefs did a real good job.''
Two officers wearing breathing apparatus and using a
low-pressure hose extinguished the fire and pulled the area
apart in an unsuccessful attempt to find the cause, he said.
Fire investigator Mike Cahill, of Invercargill, said the
cause was still ''undetermined''.
However, the outcome could have been disastrous.
''Grant's staff told him the flames were up to the roof.
''Once they [the plastic crates] start burning, they create a
fair height of flame.
''They're actually very, very lucky,'' Mr Cahill said.
The crates were destroyed and there was some damage to a
freezer the crates were next to as well as damage to an
However, had the wooden eves above the balcony caught fire
''it would have gone straight through into the roof space''.
''Given the age of the building, they are very lucky it
The premises are insured.