RACINE — The fire late Sunday afternoon at IHOP, 5800 Durand Ave., is believed to have started because of careless use of smoking materials, according to Lt. John Magnus of the Racine Fire Department.
A plastic drain started on fire and cigarettes were found nearby, he said.
Racine police and firefighters were called to the restaurant, located near Regency Mall, at 5:30 p.m. Sunday after it was reported that billowing smoke was coming from the restaurant.
Upon arrival, fire crews were met with heavy smoke inside of the restaurant. The fire was located inside a wall on the west side of the building and was extinguished within 16 minutes of the initial alarm, Magnus said.
Prior to the arrival of firefighters, employees had evacuated approximately 15 customers from the restaurant. No injuries were reported.
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The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage, the Fire Department reported.
The Racine Health Department responded to check for potential threats to public health resulting from the fire.
Jackie Willms, the general manager at the restaurant, said Monday that the restaurant remained closed, but she is hopeful it will reopen by Wednesday.
To check to see if the restaurant is open, customers can call 262-456-1879 or 262-631-0826.