SISTERS, Ore. - (Update; More information from fire district)
A customer's careless use of a cigarette, flicking hot ashes into bark mulch, sparked a smoldering fire that heavily damaged the back patio of a Sisters restaurant Friday morning but was stopped before it reached the building itself, officials said.
A worker at a nearby Bi-Mart spotted the flames on the patio of Takoda's Restaurant and Lounge off Highway 20 around 6:30 a.m. and called 911, according to the restaurant's owner, Kyle Harbick.
Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire District officials said they responded with 11 firefighters and four emergency vehicles, while other units from Cloverdale and Black Butte Ranch Department also traveled to the scene. Crews were able to quickly put out the fire and keep flames from extending inside the restaurant.
Harbick said the fire burned most of the restaurant's back patio and scorched a few pillars that connect to the building. He shared with NewsChannel 21 security camera video of the flames spreading across the patio.
Fire district Public Information Officer Julie Spor said the security video also showed a restaurant customer flicking hot ashes from a cigarette into the bark mulch used for landscaping.
Harbick said the restaurant's interior was not damaged and there were no injuries. He said the restaurant -- except the patio -- was open Friday for business as usual.
"Thank you to our local friends who called 911 immediately, and thank you to the Sisters-Camp Sherman firefighters for saving the restaurant,” the restaurants Facebook posting concluded.
Spor shared in a news release, "Bark mulch fires are usually caused by improper disposal of smoking materials into the dry, fine materials used to landscape many homes and businesses. These fires are normally found while still small, but they have the potential to do a lot of damage to surrounding buildings and structures. The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District responded to 10 bark mulch fires in 2018."
"Fire district personnel recommend creating defensible space around your home or business," she wrote. "Defensible space is essential to protect a structure from direct flame or radiant heat. Using non-combustible ground cover in areas susceptible to careless disposal of smoking materials is essential to creating a defensible space. These areas include along sidewalks, near business entrances, throughout apartment complexes, and other public spaces."
Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District Chief Roger Johnson said, "Bark mulch should never come in contact with a building or combustible material, such as a deck or fence attached to a building. Building owners should maintain at least three feet of clearance between buildings and combustible materials."
The fire district's Spor said "Smoking materials should be disposed of into a non-combustible metal or clay containers. Before disposing of materials, ensure they are cool to the touch."
"Everyone can do their part to prevent these types of fires by taking a second look to ensure smoking materials have been disposed of properly. Business owners should develop and enforce guidelines for smoking on their property. Smoke in areas away from things that burn such as bark mulch landscaping, combustible vegetation and planters."
For more information about defensible space at your home or business, contact the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District at 541-549-0771 or your local fire department.