Facing a hefty clean-up bill: Rockpool owner Neil Perry.
Facing a hefty clean-up bill: Rockpool owner Neil Perry. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

Megan Levy & Ardyn Bernoth

It will be at least a few days before one of Sydney’s most celebrated restaurants, Rockpool Bar & Grill can reopen after a fire tore through the kitchen on Wednesday night.

Neil Perry, speaking to Fairfax Media from Hong Kong, said fire crews are assessing the damage in the extraction and ducting units in the kitchen and this will determine when the restaurant can open again.

Perry said the main damage to the ornate, marble-clad dining room is from the water sprayed to douse the flames.

Diners are evacated onto the street from Rockpool Bar & Grill last night.
Diners are evacuated onto the street from Rockpool Bar & Grill last night. Photo: Reader photo

The restaurant will be closed until at least Monday.

‘‘They dumped an Olympic-sized swimming pool amount of water into the restaurant. We have people there now with super-soakers trying to get the water out of the carpet,’’ Perry said.

Water damage caused extensive damage to first floor ceilings but ‘‘the ceiling in the ground floor chamber and the bar are all ok’’.

He said firefighters are assessing whether a cooking accident started the blaze, which spread to the overhead ducting and threatened to engulf the multi-storey building on Hunter Street. Or whether the fire started in the motor of the extraction unit.

‘‘We will not know until tonight or tomorrow how it started,’’ he said.

Fire and Rescue NSW superintendent Paul Johnstone said last night about 100 patrons and 50 staff had already evacuated the building when firefighters arrived about 8.30pm on Wednesday. Rockpool estimates the number of people evacuated was closer to 200.

"The fire was in an open kitchen area, and it was spreading into the ducting. Being a multi-storey building, the crews went up to the 11th storey and had to cut through the ducting there to extinguish the fire and make sure it didn't spread, which is always a big danger," Johnstone said.

He said there were seven fire trucks and 28 firefighters involved in battling the blaze, and crews remained at the scene for about three hours.

No one was injured in the blaze.

Perry praised his staff for doing a fantastic job of evacuating diners. ‘‘They had fire training only two weeks ago. I just wish I was there for them now,’’ he said.

There were no initial estimates on the cost of the damage, although Superintendent Johnstone said it would be "quite expensive".

Operating a restaurant is a ‘‘day-by-day proposition’’ financially said Perry who will be hoping to reopen Rockpool Bar & Grill as soon as he can.

Spice Temple, another Perry-owned restaurant, under Rockpool, will re-open for dinner as usual on Thursday night.