Fire late Sunday gutted Chef in the Forest restaurant at Hauser Lake, authorities reported this morning.
The fire was called in a short time after 11:30 p.m. at 12008 N. Woodland Beach Dr. in the wood-frame, pitched roof restaurant on a lot overlooking the lake. The restaurant was known for gourmet food.
Tom Valcore, a friend of Debbie Mustered, one of the owners, said the fire destroyed the business where he and Mustered were planning to make kitchen improvements early next year.
He said that Mustered had closed the business a short time before witnesses reported the fire. “It’s sad,” he said. “We don’t know exactly what happened.”
Hauser Lake Fire Chief Larry Simms said firefighters arrived less than 10 minutes after receiving the dispatch call.
The fire had been burning for some time, and firefighters were not able to enter the structure. Instead, they opened a hole in one wall. The fire caused portions of the roof to collapse but the walls remained upright, he said.
The cause is under investigation, but there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire, Simms said. “With the extensive damage, it’s going to be pretty difficult” to pinpoint a cause, he said.
About 20 firefighters in six fire rigs fought the blaze, and some of them were still on the scene about 6 a.m.
Hauser Lake Fire Department, Kootenai County Fire and Rescue and firefighters from Northern Lights and Newman Lake departments responded to the blaze, officials said.
Mustered was insured, Simms said. No injuries occurred.