Fire destroys biker bar on Ortega Highway near Elsinore Lake, causing $ 1.5 million in damage and killing owner’s dog – Orange County Register


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A bar-grill in the Lake Elsinore area popular with bikers was nearly destroyed by fire on Friday evening.

The fire passed through the kitchen and attic of Hell’s Kitchen Motorsports Bar & Grill on Highway 74 around 9:30 p.m. Friday, according to Cal Fire / Riverside County firefighters.

The restaurant was emptied. Authorities estimated the blaze lasted about three hours and caused $ 1.5 million in damage.

When firefighters arrived, they found the restaurant “with smoke and flames rising from the roof,” officials said in an incident report.

“A rapid and coordinated fire attack kept the fire from spreading to the rest of the restaurant and vegetation,” officials wrote. Highway 74, also known as the Ortega Highway, was closed for about two hours during the incident. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

No one was injured, but owner’s dog Kodi, an 18-month-old husky, has died.

“They treated him like my son,” Frank Opp said of the firefighters who carried Kodi out of the building after finding him.

Opp spoke fondly as he was surrounded by supporters during a “Celebration of Life” for Kodi on Sunday. He said the dog has become a beloved mascot of the bar, recognizable by his customers.

Hell’s Kitchen restaurant was a frequent stop for bikers traveling on Highway 74.

In 2018, the bar remained open as the holy fire burned in the nearby Cleveland National Forest, with Opp offering to feed firefighters battling that blaze.

In 2020, Opp appeared during protests criticizing California’s COVID-19 restrictions. A protest was slated to take place at Hell’s Kitchen, but was moved to the Hawk Ranch in Murrieta, according to the Village News. In August, Opp told the Southern California News Group that Hell’s Kitchen had been closed for months due to state closures.

Opp and a bar supporter were seeking donations through a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign. They had raised about $ 6,200 by 4 p.m. Sunday.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correct the location of Hell’s Kitchen Motorsports Bar & Grill. It is on the Ortega highway near Lake Elsinore.

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