A WODONGA restaurant will remain closed indefinitely after it was gutted by fire.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blaze at Dragon Court Chinese Restaurant in McHargs Lane, off High Street, on Wednesday night.
CFA investigators have determined that it was not deliberately lit.
The fire took hold about 9.30pm; the restaurant was closed and no one was inside at the time.
Ashley Farrer, who owns a neighbouring store on High Street, saw smoke rising from the building while at Woolworths in Elgin Boulevard and raced over.
“I was stressing a fair bit, when I saw it from Melbourne Road I actually thought it was our shop for sure,” he said.
“When I got here there was smoke billowing and flames coming out of the roof.”
Flames up to a metre high licked the building, and Mr Farrer indicated a nearby tree which also caught alight.
“I spoke to the owner last night, he wasn’t too flash — obviously it’s not good circumstances,” he said.
“We all get along so anything they need we’ll try to give them a hand.”
Detective Acting Sgt Ian Deverell said the fire had severely damaged the kitchen and caused extensive smoke damage inside.
The restaurant will have to remain closed for some time while repairs are undertaken.
“Obviously the owner is upset about the whole incident,” Act Sgt Deverell said.
“His restaurant has been damaged and that is obviously going to affect his income.”
Act Sgt Deverell praised the efforts of the 20 firefighters from Wodonga and Wodonga West, whose quick work saved much of the building and stopped the fire spreading.
CFA investigators spent yesterday morning scouring the restaurant.
He appealed for anyone who may have been in the area to come forward.
Phone information to police on (02) 6049 2600.