Spontaneous Ignition Causes Restaurant Fire

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 - 9:22am

Spontaneous ignition is listed as the cause of a fire that damaged a west side restaurant this morning. A passerby noticed smoke and reported the fire at JJ Fish & Chicken on South Gammon Road. Firefighters were dispatched at 8:29 AM and arrived within four minutes.

Engine 7 arrived first on the scene and reported smoke coming from the front windows of the restaurant. They broke the glass in the front door and pulled a hoseline into a back room of the restaurant. Firefighters found a small fire that was quickly extinguished with a minimal amount of water.

Fire and heat damage was limited to the area where the fire originated and smoke damage was noted throughout the restaurant. Damage to the restaurant and contents is estimated at $15,000. The restaurant was closed at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported at the scene.

The fire investigation revealed that recently laundered towels were placed on a wooden table late Monday night. The towels were used for cleaning at the restaurant and contained cooking oils that can spontaneously ignite. Even after washing, cooking oil residue that remains in the cloth can generate enough heat to ignite the fabric. The laundered towels smoldered for several hours before the fire was discovered.

Oily clothing, rags and linens should be placed in a metal container with a self-closing metal lid to reduce the possibility of spontaneous ignition. Care should also be taken when cleaning these items as the heat of a clothes dryer can speed the combustion process.

  • Eric Dahl, 608-261-9845