Lethbridge Fire and EMS continue to investigate what sparked a blaze at a local restaurant that caused extensive damage estimated to be worth more than a million dollars.
Fire crews from four Lethbridge fire stations responded to the blaze at the Cheesecake Cafe, just before 6 a.m. Saturday.
Due to heavy debris, fire crews expect to take a few days to determine the origin and cause of the fire.
Fire prevention officer, Doug Broadhead tells Global News the damage inside may keep the restaurant shut down for some time.
“When I say extensive, I mean the area went into flashover. Flashover means there was fire heat and smoke almost to the floor, to the floor area of the restaurant. So most of that area was ignited,” he explained.
General Manager of the Cheesecake Cafe, Jessie Dixon, says their kitchen manager was on his way to work when he saw smoke coming from the top of the building.
“He looked to see if there was fire but couldn’t see anything but lots of smoke. Then called 9-1-1,” he says.
Crews battled the blaze for more than seven hours and were able to contain the fire inside the restaurants walls, but the kitchen and dining room sustained extensive fire, smoke, and water damage.
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It’s too early to determine when the restaurant will reopen to the public but Broadhead roughly estimates five months.
Dixon says the closure couldn’t have come at a worse time for employees.
“It’s a bad time of year for our staff with holidays coming up and Christmas, for a lot of our customers who booked holiday parties with us. We’ve had to reschedule, I mean even our vendors, everyone’s affected by it,” he says.
Owners say they’re thankful for all the support they’ve been receiving from the community.
They say they’re doing everything possible to reopen the restaurant as soon as possible and help employees through this tough time.
Staff would also like to remind customers that any purchased gift cards will be honoured at all other Cheesecake Cafe locations.