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Orange County Focus

HUNTINGTON BEACH : Investigators Sift Ashes of Nightclub

April 24, 1993|ROBERT BARKER

Fire and police investigators sifted through the rubble of the Majestic nightclub Friday, seeking to find out what caused a spectacular early morning fire at the popular Vietnamese nightspot.

Several firefighters were on the roof of the nightclub when a large portion of the tile roof collapsed during the 4:50 a.m. blaze. Firefighters could feel a vibration and stepped back in time to avoid falling through the roof, officials said.

No injuries were reported.

Sixty-nine firefighters from Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley put out the three-alarm blaze about 45 minutes after it was reported.

The nightclub, which featured ballroom dancing among other entertainment, sustained major damage. Structural damage was estimated at $250,000. Damage to the nightclub's contents was estimated at another $250,000.

Firefighters managed to keep flames from spreading to adjoining businesses through an "aggressive attack," said fire investigator Billy Ogden. "It was a good stop," he said.

The fire started in the rear of the building near the dance floor, which was destroyed.

A contingent of firefighters kept watch over the smoldering building at 18582 Beach Blvd. throughout Friday, guarding against a fresh outbreak of flames. Police and arson investigation teams sifted through ashes, despite concern that what remained of the roof might collapse.

Ogden said the cause of the blaze had not been determined. Other investigators noted that there was a rapid "acceleration of flames."

John Quoc Nguyen and his wife, Connie Khanh Nguyen, bought the Majestic in 1989. Connie Khanh Nguyen is a Vietnamese-born entertainer who goes by the stage name Phi Khahn. She is the band director and also sings with the group on weekends.

A police officer on his way to the police station arrived at the fire scene about a minute after a burglar alarm went off, Ogden said.

The first firefighters arrived about six minutes later. Firefighter-paramedic Dan Forster said flames were shooting 30 to 40 feet into the sky when he arrived.

A Fire Department official said the first police officer on the scene could see embers glowing under a door at the nightclub but saw no signs of a burglary.

The alarm could have been set off by flames, the official said.

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