All of Utica was talking about the devastating fire that attacked the HK Restaurant & Lounge Thursday afternoon on Varick Street.

Several people were at or around the scene and could see the smoke and flames from all around the area of West Utica and the brewery district.

Varick Street has seen its fair share of terrible incidents from the Saranac Brewery fire years ago to various unfortunate homicides. In fact, the HK Restaurant and Lounge was the site of a shooting death back on November 11th, 2023.

There are several people who are spreading rumors and making assumptions about the cause of the fire, but the Utica Fire Department has a lot to do when it comes to investigating the events surrounding the fire and what caused it.

Utica Fire Chief Scott Ingersoll says there is a lot still that is unknown about the blaze. He tells WIBX,

At this point in time we are not deeming this fire as suspicious. We do not have any evidence of that at this time. With the extent of the damage to the building and the unstable nature of the building, we are having trouble getting investigators in there.

While there is no evidence at this time, the chief is not ruling it out entirely.

Ingersoll did say that two of the apartments were under renovation and two were occupied. The chief also said the fire got a good head start before the fire department was notified.

One aspect of the fire that crews learned about was that the existing roof was built 20 feet above the original roof and that made battling the blaze a lot more difficult, according to Chief Ingersoll. That made cooling down the fire and subsiding it very difficult.

We will continue to provide updates on this story as we learn more about the cause and details resulting from the investigation.

Incredible Photos of the Devastating HK Restaurant & Lounge Fire

On Thursday, November 30th, 2023 the Utica Fire Department was called to the HK Restaurant & Lounge for reports of heavy smoke coming from the building. The second alarm fire took hours to final get under control and the former Roger's Coffee Shop ended up being a total loss. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Gallery Credit: Andrew Derminio

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New York Fire Department Firefighters Timothy Klein was killed in the line of duty on April 24, 2022, while battling a fire in Brooklyn. FDNY members salute Firefighter Timothy Klein during his dignified transfer.

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