Bend, OR – Sprinkler system stops ‘ball of fire’ at downtown restaurant

A cooking oil fire ignited on the stove of a downtown Bend restaurant’s kitchen Monday morning, creating what a fire official called “a ball of fire that roared out from under the range hood” — but also setting off a fire sprinkler head that put out the blaze and prevented far worse damage.

Bend Fire Department crews responded around 10 a.m. to the reported fire at Mother’s Downtown Kitchen on Northwest Minnesota Avenue, next door to The Oxford Hotel, said Battalion Chief Dave Howe.

First-arriving crews reported some smoke coming from the building, but soon reported the fire already was out.

Cooking oil in a pot on the stove was ignited, possibly by a few drops of water, which caused the “ball of fire” that  set off the sprinkler head, Howe said. It also activated the range hood extinguishing system, putting out the oil still burning in the pot.

Losses were estimated at $30,000 in contents, but none to the building itself, both of which were insured.

The sprinkler, designed to open at 165 degrees, “saved the structure from what might have been a devastating loss,” Howe said in a news release.

The fire alarm system also quickly notified Deschutes County 911, as did a couple of customers.

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