A small kitchen fire at noontime Thursday in Café Caracas, at 1446 University Ave., destroyed the hood over an oven and required firefighters to cut two holes in the kitchen roof to allow gas to escape.
Assistant Chief Michael Migliore said the fire was extinguished in about 20 minutes. Employees tried to put out the fire themselves, he said, but by the time they brought an extinguisher over to the flames, the fire was too big.
The Berkeley Fire Department will investigate the fire, but Migliore and building owner Cecile Isaacs believe the fire began in a pot on the stove. She said the fire suppression system failed to work in the six-year-old restaurant.
Café Caracas will be closed for several weeks for repairs in the kitchen, on the roof and possibly in the electrical system. Migliore estimated the damage at $25,000.
Migliore said the roof had to be opened because heat rises, and if there are no escape holes, it travels laterally and would have damaged adjoining business.
Even so, he said Narain’s Outdoor Garment Specialist and University Hair Care had some smoke damage.