Sun Peaks Fire Rescue (SPFR) crews extinguished a fire at Bella Italia Restaurant in the early hours of July 28.
SPFR captain Joss Advocaat said they were dispatched at 1:20 a.m. after a caller reported the restaurant was filled with smoke.
16 firefighters responded in five trucks, BC Ambulance and RCMP were also on scene.
“When crews arrived on scene SPFR was able to man an initial attack and quickly knock down the flames and ventilate the smoke out of the building,” Advocaat said. “Damage was contained to the kitchen area.”
He added an SPFR investigation is underway but it’s suspected the blaze came from kitchen rags.
Tarrah MacPherson, owner and operator of Bella Italia, echoed Advocaat’s sentiment.
She explained laundry had been returned around 7 p.m. from in-house washing and was placed in a milk crate in the kitchen to be folded the next day.
The restaurant closed at 11 p.m. and at 1 a.m. a security guard in the village noticed the smoke.
“It was warm, dry laundry that incubated from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. and had oil leftover on it,” she said. “It wasn’t any kitchen equipment.”
In an effort to avoid a repeat MacPherson said they will switch to disposable cloths and all remaining laundry will be done off site.
“All restaurateurs should be aware of this hazard, it’s not something everybody forecasts or foresees.”
With the help of a carpet cleaner loaned from Fireside Lodge and an ozonator loaned by Top of the Mountain Accommodations the doors should reopen soon.
She said they had to close for two days in addition to one pre-planned shut day but will be back serving guests by Wednesday (July 31).
“We’ve already decreased the smoke smell by about 70 per cent,” she said.
“I’m very grateful for the many phone calls in the last 24 hours offering assistance and help…The fire department was phenomenal and Joss did a great job managing the scene.”