Herald Sun
January 19th, 2014

THE owners of iconic St Kilda restaurant the Stokehouse have vowed to rebuild it after it was destroyed by a fire, sending shock waves through the community.

Frank and Sharon Van Haandel, who would have celebrated 25 years of running the popular beachside landmark this year, said they were “totally devastated”.

But in what would be relief for the thousands of Melburnians and visitors alike who flock to the venue each week, the Van Haandels say they will do everything they can to bring it back to its former glory.

About 200 diners were evacuated from the restaurant after the lights flickered on and off and a staff member reported a fire in the kitchen about 11pm on Friday.

It took more than 70 firefighters, three hours to bring the blaze under control.

No-one was injured in the inferno.

Fire investigators told the Herald Sun fat in the flue, combined with this week’s scorching temperatures is believed to have ignited the blaze.

Little was left of the 110-year-old historic building on Saturday, as it continued to smoulder, before an excavator demolished the charred structure that remained.