Diners were evacuated from an Essendon restaurant this afternoon after the building went up in flames.
A chef, believed to be in his 30s, suffered burns to his face and hands as the blaze ripped through the two-storey Chinese Restaurant, Tope, on Leake Street about 1.30pm.
He was ferried to the Royal Melbourne Hospital where he is in a stable condition, an Ambulance Victoria spokesman said.
Metropolitan Fire Brigade acting commander Darren Brown said the fire, which started in the kitchen while the chef was cooking, soon spread through the building’s duct system and into the roof space.
‘‘After it got up into the next floor, there was a lot of smoke coming out and it moved right through the building,’’ he said.
Twenty-four fire fighters took an hour to bring the blaze under control.
MFB believes the fire has left the restaurant with a damage bill of about $250,000.
Neighbouring buildings were left with smoke and water damage.
Investigators will attend the scene to determine the cause.
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