Owner ‘traumatised’ after blaze guts restaurants

An emotional Stan Lee, proprietor, Mandarin Palace Chinese Restaurant, surveys the fire damage to his premises.
An emotional Stan Lee, proprietor, Mandarin Palace Chinese Restaurant, surveys the fire damage to his premises.

The owner of the Mandarin Palace and Mandarin Karma restaurants which were destroyed by a fire in Londonderry on Wednesday has told how he feels “traumatised and totally numb” after the incident.

The fire started in the Mandarin Palace on Wednesday afternoon and at its height 130 firefighters from all over the north of Ireland helped to battle the blaze. No injuries were reported.

Stan Lee, whose family first opened the Mandarin Palace on the Strand Road in 1989, said he was also overwhelmed with the messages of support he received.

“I am absolutely traumatised and totally numb,” Mr Lee told the Derry Journal.

“We built the business up for 25 years, it was like a baby to me and now it’s gone. Words can’t convey how I am feeling right now,” he added.

Mr Lee said it wasn’t until the early hours of Thursday morning that he saw for himself the damage caused by the fire.

“A member of the fire service called me up at 1am on Thursday and asked me if I could meet him at the restaurant.

“When I saw the damage to my restaurant by the fire I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. I think I am still in shock.”

The restaurants employed 68 people and it is unclear whether any of the jobs will be saved.

“I have had about 200 phone calls over the last few days from people I know and people I don’t know.

“I would like to thank the brave prompt action of the emergency services, the fire service and the PSNI who responded to the scene of the fire.”