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Updated: Utility Issues Could Slow Repair after Chez Panisse Fire in Berkeley

By Bay City News
Friday March 08, 2013 - 11:10:00 PM

The fire that struck Berkeley's famous Chez Panisse restaurant early this morning caused about $150,000 to $200,000 in damage but it could reopen soon, Berkeley fire Acting Deputy Chief Avery Webb said. 

Webb said the cause of the fire, which was reported shortly after 3 a.m., hasn't yet been determined but investigators are focusing on some electrical equipment under the building's porch, which is where the fire started. 

"We're suspecting that electrical plates played some role in the fire" at the restaurant at 1517 Shattuck Ave., Webb said. 

A working sprinkler system inside the building helped stop the fire from spreading to the entire structure, fire officials said. The blaze was brought under control shortly before 4:30 a.m. 

Waters sent a message out on Twitter around 10 a.m. that said, "Luckily no one hurt and the main structure of Chez Panisse intact. Hope to reopen the Cafe next weekend. Thank you for your love + support." 

Webb said Berkeley health officials met with Chez Panisse representatives today to review what measures need to be taken before the restaurant is allowed to reopen. 

He said there was damage to the front of the building, along the side and underneath the building, as well as some damage to electrical equipment and water pipes. 

Webb said, "Fixing the utilities might be the primary cause of a delay in reopening as well as dealing with the smoke issue."