‘I went into the fire to save my baby’

An emotional Stan Lee pictured outside the Mandarin Palace on Thursday afternoon. DER1015MC113
An emotional Stan Lee pictured outside the Mandarin Palace on Thursday afternoon. DER1015MC113

The owner of a Derry restaurant destroyed by a fire earlier this week claims he braved the flames to try and save his business.

Stan Lee, whose family first opened the Mandarin Palace on the Strand Road in 1989, also told The Sunday Journal that the damage inflicted on his restaurant by the fire had left him both “traumatised and completely numb.”

I ran into the blaze with a fire blanket to try and save my baby - that’s how I see the business, as my baby. I built the business up over 25 years so to see it go up in smoke is devastating

Mandarin Palace owner, Stan Lee

“I ran into the blaze with a fire blanket to try and save my baby - that’s how I see the business, as my baby. I built the business up over 25 years so to see it go up in smoke is devastating,” said Mr. Lee.

The fire started in the Mandarin Palace on Wednesday afternoon and at its height 130 fire-fighters from all over the North of Ireland helped to battle the blaze. No injuries were reported.

“I am absolutely traumatised and totally numb - I have had one hour of sleep in the last 48 hours,” said Mr Lee.

Mr. Lee said it wasn’t until the early hours of Thursday morning that he saw for himself the damage caused by the fire.

“A member of the fire service called me up at 1am on Thursday and asked me if I could meet him at the restaurant.

“When I saw the damage to my restaurant by the fire I couldn’t believe what I was looking at - I think I am still in shock.”

Mr Lee said in the wake of the fire he had been overwhelmed by messages of support.

“I have had about 200 phone calls over the last few days from people I know and people I don’t know.”

“The messages of support and offers of help have been overwhelming - I will not be able to thank the people of Derry and Donegal enough. My main concern now is for my 68 staff and my employees,” he added.

Mr. Lee went on to thank the emergency services who helped to control and extinguish the fire.

“I would like to thank the brave prompt action of the emergency services, the fire service and the PSNI who responded to the scene of the fire. I would also like to thank all of our customers for their support over the last 25 years and I hope to see them in the near future,” added Mr. Lee.