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Fire rips through China Kitchen, other businesses in downtown Marble Falls

China Kitchen fire aftermath Oct. 5, 2023

The aftermath of a structure fire that started at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 in the building housing China Kitchen, 705 First St. in Marble Falls. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Marble Falls Fire Rescue crews on Thursday, Oct. 5, continued to work the scene of a structure fire on First Street in downtown Marble Falls after responding to a call at around 6 p.m. Wednesday. The blaze engulfed China Kitchen, 705 First St.

The fire’s origin was unknown at the time of this story’s publication. Marble Falls public safety officials are currently working to obtain a search warrant to enter the premises.

“At this point, it’s just anybody’s guess,” Marble Falls Police Chief Glenn Hanson told “It could be anywhere in there. There is no way of knowing where it started just yet.”

China Kitchen fire Oct. 4, 2023
A fire broke out at around 6 p.m. Oct. 4 in the building housing China Kitchen, 705 First St. in Marble Falls. Photo by Mickey Kinman

Firefighters worked through the night to keep flames from jumping to other buildings. 

“Initially, firefighters were attacking the fire from inside,” Hanson said. “It got to the point where the fire was threatening the overhead structure, and they had to pull out and fight it from the outside.”

Marble Falls Fire Rescue was aided by the Marble Falls Area Volunteer Fire Department, Granite Shoals Fire Department, Horseshoe Bay Fire Department, Burnet Fire Department, Spicewood Fire Department, and Lake Travis Fire Rescue. The Marble Falls Police Department and Marble Falls Area EMS were also on the scene.

China Kitchen fire
Two firefighters spray down China Kitchen, trying to douse flames that destroyed the restaurant and other businesses in the building in downtown Marble Falls on Oct. 4. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell

“Anytime a structure fire goes out, if it’s in town, (Marble Falls) guys go, but they automatically tone out (Marble Falls Area VFD), Granite Shoals (Fire Department), and Horseshoe Bay (Fire Department) for mutual aid,” he said. “This one spread so quickly that they started calling Lake Travis (Fire Rescue) and Spicewood (Fire Department).”

A ladder truck from Lake Travis Fire Rescue was positioned across U.S. 281 to hook up to a fire hydrant on the east side of the roadway, effectively closing the thoroughfare until the truck was sent home at around midnight.

China Kitchen fire
Firefighters rest at the scene of a large structure fire Oct. 4 at China Kitchen on First Street in Marble Falls. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell

“(U.S.) 281 was closed for some time because they had to pull a 5-inch line across U.S. 281 so that Lake Travis could get on it from a different angle,” Hanson said.

No civilians were harmed, but five firefighters from different departments were taken to the hospital out of an “abundance of caution,” Hanson said.

“Everybody that was in the building at the time got out,” he said.

Hanson reported that all the firefighters were treated and released.

“I think there was one from every agency that was out there,” Hanson said. “It didn’t take long for it to get hot.”

Smoke from the fire blew in a northwestern direction, meaning businesses in its trail might have been affected from carcinogenic fumes. 

“There’s plastics and all sorts of man-made things in there,” Hanson said. “When those things burn, a lot of times, they give off toxic fumes. That’s the danger from the smoke. … It was thick and black.”

China Kitchen fire
Bystanders watch as first responders battle a blaze at First Street Plaza on Oct. 4. The fire destroyed China Kitchen and other businesses in the building in downtown Marble Falls. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell

Pedernales Electric Cooperative powered down buildings near the fire. Many remain without power the morning after.

“Across the street, where we had instant command set up there, like Galloway Insurance (100 Avenue H) and those other buildings, the power is out and I assume will be for some time to those buildings,” he said. 

Residents are advised to avoid the following areas: Second Street between Main Street and U.S. 281, Avenue H between Second Street and First Street, and the entirety of First Street.

The area is being treated as a crime scene.

“We hold the scene just like we would any other crime scene, and we treat it like that until it’s determined that it’s not,” Hanson said. “At this time, there’s no reason to believe that it is, but you have to do everything right.”


Hanson thanked the many departments, agencies, and other organizations that helped public safety officials battle the flames.

“Everybody did such an awesome job,” he said. “It’s wonderful to have the type of community we have. We had people saying, ‘We’ll bring you water. What else do you guys need?’ That was great. And, of course, our partners and stakeholders in the community and folks from as far away as Lake Travis coming in and helping was awesome as well. It’s great that we have those kinds of relationships for just this reason.”

This story will be updated as more information is made available.

1 thought on “Fire rips through China Kitchen, other businesses in downtown Marble Falls

  1. The Family Taekwondo Center and Child Care was totally gutted. The children were safe and kudos to Coach Kelly Lee. A story of their business and how it affected the daycare would be appreciated also.

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