Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 31
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
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Weather Forecast

Early Morning Three-Alarm Fire Guts Two Nassau Street Restaurants

Ellen Gilbert

The website message from Sultan Wok, one of two eating places on the northern end of Nassau Street that burned down in a three-alarm fire last week, promised an update for “our valued customers,” while the Thai restaurant, Tom Yum Gong, expressed similar sentiments on its website, thanking family and patrons, and saying that it would “re-open in the future.”

In describing the blaze, Lt. David Dudeck of the Borough police reported that patrols responded to a commercial fire alarm at 1:30 a.m. on Friday, July 31, at 354 Nassau Street. “When patrol officers arrived, they noticed that smoke was coming out of the roof, windows, and doors on all sides of building. The businesses were closed, and there were no occupants inside of the building.”

“The building was fully engulfed in flames,” said Lt. Dudeck. The fire was eventually extinguished through the efforts of the collaborating fire departments.

In addition to the Princeton Fire Department, area fire departments dispatching trucks in response to the call included Princeton Plasma Physics; Montgomery, Plainsboro, Rocky Hill, Lawrence Road, Prospect Heights. Hamilton, Princeton Junction, and Kingston.

Lt. Dudeck reported that the fire is being investigated by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office, along with Borough police detectives and fire inspectors. It is not considered suspicious, he said, although its origin has not yet been identified.

Despite the presence of demolition crews and the acrid smell of fire still in the air, Whole Earth and CoolVines, two nearby stores, were open for business as usual on Monday morning.

“We have not been affected, thankfully,” said CoolVines manager Jeff Carroll. “The fire actually was contained to just that building. We were definitely sorry to see it happen, and hope they get back soon.” The wine store will hold its regularly scheduled wine-tasting event on Wednesday, August 5, from 5 to 8 p.m.

Whole Earth Deli Manager Alex Levine reported that “it was extremely traumatic for all of us on Friday morning when we got here. We had to talk our way past police barricades to get in; for that reason we were late getting started. We saw the owners of Tom Yum Gong and Sultan Wok, and talked with them. We all feel terrible about it.”

Mr. Levine thought that the presence of demolition crews “might make things harder for some of our vendors who come in large trucks and use the Harrison Street entrance. But we’re here and we feel very lucky.”

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