Friday, September 23, 2011 - 9:25am
City of Madison fire investigators say a fire that damaged several businesses at Greenway Plaza on September 3 began when an employee left a burner on under a pot of lard in the kitchen of a Mexican restaurant.
The fire at 1325 Greenway Cross was spotted by a passerby who called 911 to report flames and smoke showing.
Firefighters arrived to find smoke showing from the exterior of the building. Crews entered through a front entrance that leads to a common hallway. Inside, firefighters reported smoke, flames and smoldering embers on the floor. They moved about 30 feet down the hallway before entering a door that led to the restaurant kitchen.
Fire was also found above a false ceiling that had crews chasing hot spots for more than two hours.
The restaurant employee had started to heat three pots of lard when he became ill and prepared to leave. He turned off two of the burners, but the 3rd burner was left in the "on" position.
Damages to the building, which also houses two schools, a clothing store and two hair salons, are estimated at $500,000.
- Lori Wirth(608) 266-5947