Berlin - The stench of smoke still hung over large parts of Kreuzberg early Wednesday after the popular Brachvogel beer garden and restaurant on the Landwehrkanal caught fire about 2.30am. The fire department took two hours to extinguish the blaze and was on-scene with 60 firefighters, it said on Twitter.

On Wednesday afternoon the police announced that the Landeskriminalamt (state criminal police office) is investigating and treating the case as possible intentional aggravated arson.

The restaurant as well as beer garden and miniature golf course on Carl Herz Ufer near Prinzenstraße burned out completely and one man was taken to hospital with injuries from the fire. Firefighters also rescued a dog from the flames.

Owner Ceminan Albayrak worked together with others to Wednesday morning to sort through the ashes, moving a refrigerator into a nearby van. He was hesitant to grant an interview and said the cause of the fire is still unclear.

His brother tried to extinguish the fire and said he was in the hospital, but then the man suddenly appeared, with bandaged head and hands. The brother had plastic hospital covers on his feet rather than shoes.

A total loss

Both he and the dog survived the fire with only minor injuries.

The restaurant, however, is a total loss. Fire had already spread throughout the 200sqm building when the fire brigade arrived and after initially putting out the building, embers rekindled and firefighters had to attack the flames a second time.

Arson investigators are now looking at the fire and a state criminal investigation unit arrived on-scene about 11am. 

"We are shocked, it's terrible," said Barbara Emma and Horst-Helmut, regulars who stopped to survey the damage. "We hope he can reopen and has good insurance."

Insurance is always an issue, owner Albayrak said and turned to talk to investigators.

Photo: Markus Wächter
The day after.

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