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'Heartbroken': Three Kings responds after kitchen fire damages businesses

Fire crews on the scene said the fire started in the kitchen at Three Kings pub.

SAINT LOUIS, Mo. — Heavy smoke and flames could be seen billowing out of the rooftop of empty apartments nestled on top of the Three Kings Public House in the Delmar Loop early Wednesday morning.

Fire crews said the flames broke out around 3:30 a.m. and started in the kitchen of the popular University City restaurant. Crews arrived to find flames were coming through the roof of the kitchen area of Three Kings Public House and had spread to the apartments. Three Kings was closed at the time of the fire.

University City officials said in a news release that all occupants of the apartments were able to evacuate the building safely. 

Dozens of firefighters responded to the fire for mutual aid, including University City, St. Louis, Ladue, Maplewood, Clayton, Mid-County, Affton and Pattonville. 

The fire had spread to void spaces in the units that were between floors and roofs due to construction over the years. Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire on the first, second and third floors of the apartments before concentrating their efforts on the restaurant and kitchen, the city said.

The fire also caused damage to Iron Age Tattoo and Piercing and Sunshine Daydream — though Iron Age and Three Kings are in the same building.

University City Fire Chief Bill Hinson said during a 1 p.m. press conference that the walls collapsed in the back annex of the building that extends past the apartments and holds the restaurant's kitchen and storage area. One University City firefighter suffered minor injuries when the restaurant ceiling collapsed on the crew but did not need medical attention.

"The whole building's gonna have to be rebuilt, there's no doubt about that," Hinson said. "As far as a total loss, I don't know. Once they get structural engineers in here, they'll look at the structural parts of the building that hold it up, then they'll know."

Three Kings Public House said in a statement that it was "heartbroken" by the news of the fire and thanked the community for its support.

"We chose the loop because of the eclectic, vibrant and diverse nature of the area," the restaurant said. "The loop is our home, and we love it here. To our friends at Iron Age Tattoo, we are here to help however we can, and we are sorry to see your business impacted as well."

It took fire crews hours to fully overhaul and douse the fire due to the amount of rubble. It was finally extinguished as of 2:30 p.m. and Delmar Boulevard was reopened. Firefighters will continue to monitor and check the building periodically for possible flare-ups in the rubble. The fire department said it doesn't anticipate any flare-ups but is always a possibility in this type of collapse.

"Three Kings Public House will be back," the restaurant said. "We will be even better, and we will always be an active part of this amazing community in University City."

In the middle of destruction, there is always life. 

Flamenco Exquisite Flower Design owner Elisheva Heit can see the rubble from the window of her shop.

“One of my kids is absolutely insane about firefighters, and I kind of got on board. I would love to give flowers to the firefighters," she said.

And by the day's end, she did just that!

So now, flowers cover the destruction, creating a new symbol. It made lots of firefighters smile after a long day.

Credit: KSDK

"It's very symbolic. My daughter will be very happy!" Heit said.

Looking for life among the rubble is a lot easier when you bring life to the rubble.

"Just be kind to one another, honestly, nowadays, that really makes anybody's day," she said.

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