Worker injured in Columbus restaurant fire

A worker was burned during a kitchen fire at El Nopal restaurant in Columbus Saturday afternoon.

According to the Columbus Fire Department, rescue workers were called to the restaurant on National Road at just before 1 p.m. Saturday. Columbus police were first on the scene and they saw flames coming from the commercial kitchen vent hoods on the roof of the building. The building was evacuated and the flames were extinguished when firefighters arrived.

Firefighters found smoldering materials near the food preparation area in the kitchen that were quickly extinguished.

An employee who was working in the kitchen when the fire occurred, had a serious burn injury to his arm. After being treated by Columbus Regional Health medics, he was taken to the hospital. Another employee suffered minor burns but declined to be taken to the hospital.

The cause of the fire was determined to be accidental. Investigators spoke with the restaurant managers and determined that water had been added to a pot containing hot cooking oil. That caused flames to erupt injuring the employee and igniting nearby materials. Another employee said that he used several fire extinguishers to put out the blaze.

The kitchen was equipped with a fire suppression system but investigators found no evidence that the system activated during the fire. Firefighters used large ventilation fans to remove remaining smoke from the building.

The kitchen suffered moderate damage but fire did not extend to any of the building’s structure. The restaurant was closed until repairs and inspections are completed. Damages were estimated at $25,000.

Photo courtesy of Columbus Fire Department