Oily rags cited as cause of Duluth restaurant fire

Gwinnett County firefighters battled a blaze Friday morning at the Backstreet Eatery Bar & Grill in Duluth.
Gwinnett County firefighters battled a blaze Friday morning at the Backstreet Eatery Bar & Grill in Duluth.

Credit: Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services

Credit: Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services

One employee smelled something out of the ordinary Friday morning and called 911. Another employee, who had just arrived at the Backstreet Eatery Bar & Grill, saw flames from the parking lot.

Both managed to escape the fire, but the two-story building in Duluth’s revitalized downtown district was heavily damaged — all from oily rags, according to investigators.

The Backstreet Eatery Bar & Grill in Duluth was heavily damaged by a fire Friday.
The Backstreet Eatery Bar & Grill in Duluth was heavily damaged by a fire Friday.

Credit: Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services

Credit: Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services

Gwinnett County firefighters received the call about the blaze at the Main Street restaurant about 8:30 a.m., according to spokesman Lt. Donald Strother. When they arrived, they could see heavy smoke coming from the top of the structure and decided to enter through the basement. Strother said crews found flames in two separate areas of the restaurant on the first floor and were able to get those under control.

An additional search team cleared the second floor, where a real estate office is housed. At the same time, Duluth police officers helped firefighters evacuate adjacent businesses, while hazmat technicians identified and secured a carbon dioxide leak that had been caused by the fire.

Once the fire was out, Strother said investigators determined the blaze was caused by “spontaneous combustion of oily rags” but that the building’s structural integrity was not compromised.

No injuries were reported.

No one answered the phone at the restaurant Friday afternoon.

Crews battled a fire inside the Backstreet Eatery Bar & Grill in downtown Duluth.
Crews battled a fire inside the Backstreet Eatery Bar & Grill in downtown Duluth.

Credit: Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services

Credit: Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services

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