(Ben Kleppinger)

By Jenna Mink

A crowd gathered Sunday outside Punjab Indian Restaurant as firefighters doused flames that engulfed the local eatery. “We didn’t know what it was, so we ran out and saw a lot of black smoke,” said Vernon Renfro, supervisor at Captain D’s, which sits a few feet from Punjab.

The Richmond fire department was called to the scene at 2 p.m. The fire started in the kitchen, but the flames were too intense to fight the fire from the backside of the restaurant, so firefighters started tackling the fire from the roof, said Corey Lewis, public information officer for the Richmond fire department.

The fire department also encountered problems keeping enough water. Firefighters borrowed water from the army depot, White Hall and Berea fire departments. The wind also made it difficult to control the fire, Lewis said.

“(The high winds) really hampered our efforts in knocking down the fire.”

Two hours after they arrived, firefighters were still fighting flames inside the building.

Lewis said crews would be on scene most of the evening keeping the fire under control. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

One firefighter received minor burns and was treated on scene. Everyone inside the building got out unharmed, Lewis said.

Balgit Singh, owner of Punjab, said many people were eating inside the restaurant when the fire started. Singh was in Lexington, where he owns two other restaurants, when he received the call that his Richmond restaurant was on fire.

Singh said Punjab opened in Richmond about four and a half years ago and business was good.

Singh said he does not know if he will rebuild in Richmond.

Firefighters tackle the fire that destroyed Punjab Indian Restaurant Sunday. (Amanda Wheeler)