News short: Cooking oil-drenched rags possible cause of restaurant fire

Firefighters pack up after dealing with a small fire at Ricardo's Restaurant, St. George, Utah, Sept. 9, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The St. George Fire Department responded to a report of a possible structure fire on south Bluff Street Tuesday afternoon.

Two fire engines responded to Ricardo’s Restaurant at 1110 S. Bluff St. after employees noticed smoke coming from the dryer portion of a stackable washer-dryer combination. Employees opened the dryer and discovered the interior was on fire, St. George Fire Chief Robert Stoker said.

Firefighters arrived at the scene and put the small fire out. It was determined the fire was caused by a pile of rags that had been used to clean grills inside the restaurant. Though they had been washed, the rags were still “quite heavily saturated with cooking oil,” Stoker said.

“It looks like spontaneous combustion,” he said.

Fire damage was confined to the dryer. Though employees experienced some minor smoke inhalation, neither employees nor restaurant patrons were injured as a result of the incident. There was no fire or smoke damage to the building proper, Stoker said.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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  • Jon R. Cocktoasten September 9, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    Yummy!!! Makes me want to eat there… NOT! Most restaurants use a commercial laundry company to clean their aprons, towels, etc. Pretty gross that kitchen staff are also doing laundry while preparing food. How long have they been using these oil drenched rags/towels to clean surfaces that food is prepared on? Scary!

  • bobber September 9, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Not really spontaneous if the heat from the dryer ignited the rags…

    • Crazy C September 10, 2014 at 7:17 am

      The report never said the dryer was ever turned on. The employees of the resturaunt or the fire department never said the dryer was on

  • that guy September 10, 2014 at 12:24 am

    Can’t read or write english good enough to follow simple directors but you are illegal then your hired.

  • Crazy C September 10, 2014 at 7:16 am

    The news report never said the dryer was turned on. And neither did the fire department. If they said it spontaneous combusted it probably did.

  • Rebecca September 10, 2014 at 9:09 am

    This is a nice restaraunt. You are complaining that they clean their equipment and wash their cleaning rags? I would be more worried about the places that don’t clean!

    • Jon R. Cocktoasten September 10, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Obviously, they’re NOT clean as the oil soaked rags were in the dryer!!! Also read my comment better… Thank you!

  • JAR September 10, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Rebecca’s input makes sense. Thanks for the recommendation. As soon as I receive a
    1/2 off coupon, I’ll give them a try. (I’am not cheap, just thrifty).

  • bobber September 10, 2014 at 11:34 am


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