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Massive fire burns Blue Ocean restaurant *UPDATED

*Udated 12:00pm, 5.13.11

The World Journal is reporting that Blue Ocean Seafood's owners believe it will take at least two years to reopen the restaurant, which burned Thursday morning. The building was home to the region's first traditional cart-pushed dim sum restaurants and the Lam family has owned it for two decades, the Pasadena Star-News reports. They ran a different restaurant in the building for 15 years, Kin Hing, which about seven years ago Blue Ocean replaced. The dim sum restaurant's current manager told the World Journal he hadn't had time to consider whether to rebuild the restaurant. More than a dozen employees are also now out of work. With its low prices and "free lobster give out," Blue Ocean was well received even in the bad economy. Former Blue Ocean employees told the World Journal that although customers were less generous with tips than before the economic crisis, they could easily make $2,000 a month.

*Updated 3:00 pm, 5.12.11.

A fire burned Blue Ocean Seafood Thursday morning, destroying the restaurant that Los Angeles Magazine recently recognized as among the top 10 Chinese eateries in the county. Assistant Alhambra Fire Department Chief Ray Mosack said the department responded to a report of smoke coming from the restaurant at 7:41 a.m. Fire fighters found flames in the rear area near the kitchen. The blaze rapidly spread into the walls and attic and surrounding complex. The Alhambra police department said it was a three-alarm fire, very close to a four alarm. Monterey Park, Pasadena, Arcadia, Alhambra and San Gabriel fire departments were sent to the scene with 12 engines, two rescue ambulances, and one air unit.

Photos by Fred ZermenoThe fire companies deployed to the roof, but were withdrawn when the situation became dangerous and instead aerial ladders with cannons were deployed.  “ We went into defensive mode  and pulled our crews out as the roof started to  collapse," Mosack said. "Once the roof collapses, the fire gets under the debris and it is a matter of getting down under it. This is the most  significant fire of 2011.”

For hours, the fire snarled traffic at Garfield and Valley Boulevard. The police sent out a warning at 8:47 am of a structure fire near Garfield/Valley and recommended individuals avoid the area for the next two to three hours due to heavy traffic. By 9:30 the fire was under control and nobody was injured.

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13 thoughts on “Massive fire burns Blue Ocean restaurant *UPDATED”

  1. business was never slow. I think that was the reason my parents never decide to have dinner there. My grandparents have dim sum there once a week! In fact they were on their way there while I was there taking pictures.

  2. My heart goes out to the folks affected by the fire. I hope the workers quickly find jobs and are not too badly affected. Good thing nobody was hurt.

  3. A loss for both local Dim Sum addicts and the Chinese American community in Alhambra at large. I was woken by the whirring of helicopter blades and saw the smoke from blocks away, reminded me of when the Happy Bakery plaza on Valley burned down a couple of years ago.

    A big reminder for us to make sure your gas stoves are turned off before you leave your kitchen!

  4. I am calling BS on this “accidental fire”. One has to wonder whether or not the owners of Blue Ocean Seafood Restaurant committed insurance fraud, especially with the economy the way it is nowadays. Notice how that only the exterior of the building is still up; at the time of the fire there were three people in the kitchen that morning. I also like to point out that business before this fire was pretty slow in the past few months.

    Desperate times, people…

    1. I was in this restaurant on Sunday and there was a line 30 people deep to get in. Business was NOT slow there.

      It may not have been profitable but please don’t post something that you simply don’t know about. Attracting people to their doors has not been a problem and the recent publicity they received certainly wasn’t keeping people away…

    2. Business was definitely never slow at this restaurant. Every time I have driven by, there has been a line of people waiting to be seated. You don’t know anything about their finances and spreading unfounded rumors like this is irresponsible.

    3. so-called-Whistleblower: Do you have specific information that provides support for your assertions regarding the cause of the accident?

      If so, please call and inform the Alhambra Fire Department: (626) 570-5190.

      If not, we can all ignore your baseless, inflammatory comments. The legal standard is “innocent until proven guilty.” No matter how suspicious something may appear to you, you cannot say for certain that something is true (unless you have evidence supporting your guess). Let’s let the fire department do its job and identify the cause. The insurance company will investigate, too.

  5. Man, was just there on Sunday! Hope everyone is safe and the huge crab that we saw on Sunday might have escaped!

  6. Carlos Morales

    The city of Alhambra has had more than it’s share of fires over the past 30 years. A good portion of the have been Chineese mafia hits and extortion for unofficial security or “PROTECTION” money.

    The business corridors of Main Street and Valley Blvd. have been plaques with these types of fires.

    Just recently a member of the Alhambra Fire Department sued the department for an alledge cover up. The fireman investigating the fire found proof that the fire was arson related and the Captain overseeing the investigation basically told him to shut up. The following day a dead body was discovered underneath the debri.

    We have spoken to several firemen from Alhambra and they have confirmed this.
    This raises concern that if public officials are being bribed to ignore the facts and place the PUBLIC in danger.

    It’s a shame when people train hard to serve the public and forget what their purpose is.


    What are your thoughts?

    1. Carlos: Do you have specific information that provides support for your assertions regarding corruption at the Alhambra Fire Department? Please share. We’re all interested in knowing more.

      What is the name of the fireman suing the department? Lawsuits are public info so you will not be sharing any secret info by saying his/her name and other details from the complaint. What fire was it that had the body? The building at 9th and Valley?

      I’m also interested hearing more detail about the number of fires in the city and the number in the city caused by the gangsters. Please share.

  7. Ooof. It looks gooone. And so young too.

    Alas, the fire didn’t skip over the drive way onto the most important restaurant in all of Alhambra: Old Country Cafe.

  8. Worker in Alhambra

    Thanks for reporting this, I was wondering what was going on when I was driving in on the 10!

  9. Saw the smoke this morning and was wondering where it came from. Thank you for reporting it so fast, Alhambra Source!