Monday night's fire at the Pho Hung restaurant in downtown Charlottetown started in the basement and it was fortunate firefighters were able to get there quickly, says a Charlottetown fire inspector.

Kent Mitchell said the fire started when an oven in the basement with invoice books stacked on it got turned on accidentally.

'Your ways in and out are very limited.' — Kent Mitchell

The restaurant's fire alarm is linked directly to the station, which allowed for a quick response. Mitchell said the call came in at 7:23 p.m., and firefighters were at the restaurant three minutes later.

"[It] was a fire in the basement, which are always under trying conditions," he said.

"What happens is that the smoke will actually stay in the basement, and there's not much natural ventilation in a basement. And usually your ways in and out are very limited, so it is very, very challenging to fight a fire in a basement."

Restaurant closed Tuesday

Mitchell said there is smoke damage throughout the restaurant, and water, electrical and plumbing damage in the basement.

It will take the owners a couple of days to clean up. Mitchell said he understands they hope to reopen Thursday.

Two people renting an upstairs apartment might be able to get back in Tuesday, if the electrical and plumbing repairs get done, he said.

They found other accommodation Monday night.

With files from Laura Chapin