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Employee taken to hospital after fire erupts in Columbus restaurant kitchen

(Photo Provided/Columbus Fire Department)

COLUMBUS, Ind. (WISH) — A Columbus restaurant employee was taken to a local hospital with a serious burn injury after a kitchen fire erupted.

At 12:58 p.m. Saturday, firefighters with the Columbus Fire Department were dispatched to the El Nopal Restaurant in the 3100 block of North National Road on a report of a kitchen fire. Officers with the Columbus Police Department arrived on the scene first and reported seeing flames coming from vents on the roof of the building.

When firefighters arrived to the scene, the restaurant was being evacuated and the flames had been extinguished by police. Firefighters entered the buildings and talked to El Nopal employees, who said they believed the fire was out. When firefighters reached the kitchen area, they found smoldering materials near the food preparation area that were quickly extinguished by a fire attack crew.

A male employee, who was working in the kitchen when the fire occurred, had a serious burn injury to his arm. Medical services treated the injury and transported the employee to a local hospital. Another employee was looked at for a minor burn, but declined a trip to the hospital.

Officials with the Columbus Fire Department determined that the fire occurred when water was added to a cooking pot that contained hot cooking oil. This created a large eruption of flames that injured the employee and ignited combustible material within the food preparation area. One employee told officials that he used several portable fire extinguishers to put the flames out before firefighters arrived.

Officials said the kitchen was equipped with a fire suppression system, but nothing indicated that he system activated during the fire. Officials classified the cause of the fire as accidental.

Due to the Fire, El Nopal will remain closed for an unknown amount of time until repairs and additional inspections are completed. Damage caused by the fire is estimated at approximately $25,000.