The San Francisco Fire Department responded to an explosion reported at Geary Boulevard and Parker Avenue in the Richmond District this afternoon just after 1 p.m.
Footage from onlookers shows beloved dim sum restaurant Hong Kong Lounge II in flames: The fire department is telling residents to avoid the area and is evacuating the vicinity. ABC7 reports the fire was caused by a “huge natural gas explosion.”
Calls to area business were not immediately returned. Eater SF has contacted SFFD for further updates and will post them accordingly.
An employee at nearby restaurant Kaiju Eats, Ellie Wi, heard of the explosion from workers at the restaurant, who have now lost power.
“We [at Kaiju Eats] are okay,” she says. “My coworker took a picture. Half the [Hong Kong Lounge II] building is gone.”
“I hope that everyone is okay,” she says.
#020629WF2 UPDATE 3ed Alarm Gas explosion (construction crew) 4 buildings involved 5 workers in accounted for evacuations 1 Block circumference (police and fire will knock at your door) media update by chief of Department at 1410 hrs at cook and Geary (media staging) pic.twitter.com/OZ3PyepFSN— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT (@SFFDPIO) February 6, 2019
Update, 2:15 p.m.: Five missing workers were found safe and uninjured according to SFFD. According to San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, workers from a private contractor were installing a fiber cable line in the street and struck the gas line, resulting in the explosion.
Telmo Faria, a neighborhood resident and the chef/owner of restaurants Uma Casa and Piri Pica, noticed the construction workers outside Hong Kong Lounge II as he and his girlfriend settled in for lunch across the street at Mel’s Diner.
“We were talking about our order, and all of a sudden I heard this loud rumble and felt the windows shake,” says Faria.
“I thought there was a big car accident or something. My back was to the window, and when I saw peoples faces looking outside, it looked like they’d seen a ghost.”
Faria turned around to see “massive 50-foot flames.” He and his girlfriend fled on foot, fearing more explosions.
“It’s really sad,” says Faria. “We love Hong Kong Lounge II. As we were leaving, I could see the front starting to catch fire. I know the family and the people that work there.”
#020619WF2 UPDATE FIRE CONTAINED NO INJURIES 5 structures involved expect complete road closure for 4 hours minimum - under investigation Media update at 430 pm Anza and Parker pic.twitter.com/KszvzbJgi9— SAN FRANCISCO FIRE DEPARTMENT (@SFFDPIO) February 7, 2019
Update, 5 p.m.: Roads are still closed in the area of Geary near the scene of today’s explosion. SFFD extinguished the blaze, which affected a total of five buildings, after gas lines to the area were finally shut off.
Eater SF has reached out to Hong Kong Lounge II’s management for comment on the fire. Another Richmond dim sum restaurant called Hong Kong Lounge is separately owned and operated.