Fire warning for restaurant owners after 70 rescued from kitchen blaze

YARM, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 01:  Firemen climb into their fire engine as fire crews battle a fire at Crathorne Hall Luxury Hotel after fire broke out in a top floor room on October 1, 2014 in Yarm, United Kingdom. The luxury Hotel was owned by the Dugdale family until 1977. It has played host to politicians, courted royalty and delighted socialites over the decades.  (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Firefighters have issued a warning to restaurant and take-away operators after a commercial kitchen fire in Barnet this week led to the evacuation of 70 people.

Four fire engines and 21 fire officers were called out to a restaurant on Whetstone High Street after a blaze broke out in the kitchen on Sunday morning. It is thought that the accumulation of grease in the extraction system was to blame for the fire.

It gutted the restaurant’s ducting – the extraction system – from the ground floor to the first floor of the three floored building. A small part of the roof was also damaged as flames took hold.

A London Fire Brigade spokesperson warned that restaurants had a duty to make sure their kitchens are properly cleaned: “Restaurant and take-away owners should always take care to make sure their extraction systems are kept clean as a build up of fat and grease within the filters can lead to a fire.”

Firefighters from Barnet, Finchley, Southgate and Hendon spent to two hours bringing the situation under control.

“Crews had to extensively cut away ducting, which ran from the ground floor to the roof of the building, to find out where within the extraction system the fire was located,” explained the spokesperson, adding that the cause of the fire was believed to be “accidental”, due to cooking igniting grease and fat which spread through the inside of the ducting.

Five members of staff were inside in the restaurant when the fire occurred, and they were evacuated safely.

“The building, which is also home to a gym, night club and a children’s soft play area, was also evacuated by around 40 other people before the Brigade arrived. Fire crews helped a further 25 people to leave the gym and play area. Fortunately no one was reported to be injured,” said the spokesperson.

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