An overheated ventilation fan sparked an attic and roof fire, fueled by a buildup of grease and creosote, that caused more than $200,000 damage to Greg's Grill in the Old Mill District, investigators said.
Bend Fire crews responded around 10:40 a.m. to the reported roof fire at the large, lodge-style restaurant at 395 SW Powerhouse Dr., said Battalion Chief Dave Howe.
Upon arrival, they found the wood-fired grill's ventilation system ablaze, as well as the roof around it, Howe said, adding that the sprinkler system in the attic had turned on. Restaurant workers preparing for the Sunday brunch crowd were evacuated without injury.
More than a dozen firefighters were called to the scene. They extinguished the blaze with a single hose line, removed some and water from the building and checked for any extension of the fire, he said.
Investigators found the fire was caused by overheating and subsequent failure of an exhaust fan motor on the roof, said Fire Inspector Cindy Kettering.
Losses were estimated at $200,000 to the building and $8,000 to the contents, each worth about $1 million.
"Contributing to the rapid spread of the fire was an accumulation of grease and creosote from the ductwork just below the exhaust fan motor," Kettering said.
Examining the scene, Kettering said the initial damage figure of less than $40,000 was boosted considerably when they determined the fire had spread to nearby structural members in the attic.
"It appears they will have to replace a substantial potion of the roof support," the fire inspector told KTVZ.COM.
"Had there not been a functioning sprinkler system in there, it could have been far, far worse," she added.
But the restaurant's manager told NewsChanel 21 at the scene they should be back open for business in a couple of days.
Howe said, "Sprinklers basically are like firefighters always on duty inside the building, and it makes it a lot quicker for us to put a fire out."
Kettering told KTVZ.COM that Greg's Grill was "overdue on cleaning of the kitchen hood and routine maintenance."
She also said the fire department has a concern of more such work being delayed by area restaurants and businesses due to the difficult economic times.
"Whether it is a kitchen range, a fireplace or a woodstove, frequent and thorough cleaning is needed in order to prevent fires," the fire inspector said in a news release.
"Wood-fired cooking appliances and ductwork need to be thoroughly cleaned on a monthly basis. Stovepipes and chimneys for woodstoves and fireplaces should be inspected monthly and cleaned regularly, particularly if they are used as a primary source of heat."
Kettering said the agency is working with restaurants and other businesses to make sure they stay safe.