SEBASTOPOL (CBS SF) — A cooking oil fire caused major damage to a Taco Bell restaurant in Sebastopol Wednesday evening, Sebastopol fire Chief Bill Braga said.
Sebastopol Fire Department officers were attending their quarterly meeting at the fire station when they were informed around 7:15 p.m. about the restaurant fire at 860 state Highway 116 in northern Sebastopol, Braga said.
The roof of the restaurant was on fire, filling the interior with thick, black smoke when firefighters arrived, Braga said. They made their way into the kitchen and discovered a deep fryer was on fire, Braga said.
The flames in the kitchen spread up the walls to the ceiling panels and into the attic. Firefighters made holes in the roof to vent the hot gases inside the restaurant, Braga said.
Four employees and two or three customers escaped safely, but one of the employees suffered a bruise from a falling ceiling tile when he tried to put out the blaze, Braga said.
The flames in the deep fryer died, then re-ignited.
“The oil reached a flashpoint and maybe the appliance failed and kept cooking the oil,” Braga said.
Firefighters from Sebastopol, Gold Ridge and Graton knocked down the fire in 20-30 minutes. The 18 firefighters then spent an hour on overhaul and further opening the roof, Braga said.
“This was a $100,000 fire,” Braga said.
The blaze caused extensive fire damage in the kitchen and extensive heat and smoke damage in the restaurant, Braga said.
Braga said the fire officers’ meeting a mile or two away enabled a quick response and probably saved the building.