Volunteer firefighter Eric Forsythe was grocery shopping Tuesday night when he heard workers at the store talking about smoke outside.
He ran out the door, saw the exterior of the neighboring Kum Kang San Buffet was on fire, and rushed inside to evacuate the building, where people eating had no idea about the flames.
“I told (my wife): ‘I’ll be back in a second,’ and she kept on shopping, probably not realizing what I was doing, because she probably would have been upset with me,” he said. “But it’s what we do.”
Forsythe has been a volunteer firefighter at the Browns Point-Dash Point Fire Department since 2004, he said.
South King Fire & Rescue crews were dispatched about 7:30 p.m. to the fire in the 31600 block of Pacific Highway South.
It appears someone doing maintenance outside used a blow torch to burn away some landscaping, and the fire got out of control, Assistant Chief Gordon Olson said.
A sprinkler system quickly extinguished the flames, and no one was injured.
Investigators were confirming the cause and working to get an estimate for the damage, which appeared to be mostly cosmetic, Olson said.
In such situations, notifying occupants of a burning building is a priority for both civilians and firefighters, he said.
“He (Forsythe) did a great job and that certainly makes our job easier,” Olson said. “The fact that he was able to let people know what was happening was one less thing that we were going to have to worry about.”