Fire investigators: Perkins blaze started in fryer, spread into roof

Restaurant remains closed pending cleanup and repairs

Lawrence fire crews remain on scene at Perkins, 1711 W 23rd St., Monday afternoon, March 12, 2018, following a morning fire at the restaurant.

The fire that shut down Lawrence’s Perkins Restaurant and Bakery started at the fryer, fire investigators determined.

The fryer’s fire suppression system did not activate to quash it immediately, said Division Chief and Fire Marshal James King of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical. King said investigators had not yet determined why the suppression system did not activate. He said such systems, required by code, typically are automatically triggered by a fire’s heat and also have a manual backup pull if needed.

Cooks had changed out grease in the fryer that morning, and the flare-up happened afterward, King said. He said fire spread up through the hood system and into the ceiling, damaging more than meets the eye from the outside.

King said a sprinkler head did activate, which helped keep the fire in check.

The fire was reported shortly before 10:30 a.m. Monday, and firefighters deemed it under control less than 30 minutes later. The restaurant was evacuated, and no one was injured.

Perkins remained closed Tuesday, and will be until building repairs are completed and water damage is cleaned up, regional manager Lori Jamieson said Tuesday. Jamieson said she didn’t have a timeline for how long that would take.

King said the fire department did not yet have a dollar estimate for damages to the restaurant.