After more than three months of investigating, Maricopa Fire investigators really have no idea why a fire occurred at Native Grill & Wings in the early morning hours of Jan. 12.
According to a Fire Investigation Report authored by the Maricopa Fire/Medical Department Division of Fire Prevention, the 2 a.m. event was “a medium size commercial structure with no smoke showing.”
When crews entered the building, they found a “large stove fire,” which was quickly knocked down, and flames extending into the hood system, which were extinguished.
Eight units reported to the scene. The report described heavy smoke in the building. Gas services to the building were quickly shut off but fire crews had a problem shutting off electricity to the building.
“The electrical wiring above the ceiling hood [was] burned and hanging; fire crews checking for extension removed light fixtures around the area. The service panel located at the west side of the building did not have an electrical main disconnect to shut power off. ED3 techs on-scene had to disconnect power at the transformer located west of the service panel,” the investigators report reads.
Investigators described the fire in detail in the report.
“The fire originated at the kitchen, the area of origin was at the most east portion of the kitchen heating appliances stove/grille,” the fire report states. “All the stove knobs appeared to be in different locations making it undetermined if the stove was in the on position or off. The manager indicated using pliers to turn the knobs. Fire extended up into the exhaust hood interior duct with extreme heat to the ductwork melting the outer insulation approximate 3 feet above the ceiling tiles.”
Some of the fire suppression system worked, and some of it did not.
“The fire alarm display showed kitchen hood system activated to dispatch the fire dept. Visual inspection of the manual pull station located at the northeast exit door not manual activated; the glass tube to the handle was still intact, never broke. A visual under the hood showed two of the temperature hood links did melt due to heat that should have caused the system to activate; but no release of the wet chemical initiated,” the report states.
Investigators noted two sprinkler pendants just outside the hood system that did not activate “due to insufficient heat,” nor did upright sprinklers above the roof trusses near the hood system ductwork.
“The majority of the flames traveled up into the exhaust ductwork and out the exhaust fan located on roof,” the investigators report states.
Investigators are just not sure what caused the fire that has kept Native Grill closed for the past three months.
“Investigators determined the cause as undetermined,” the report states. “According to interviews with manager, all kitchen employees shut the kitchen down at 11:30 p.m., then cleaned leaving around midnight. The manager Amy indicated to have checked the kitchen before closing the bar around 2 a.m.”
But investigators did find a problem in the fire suppression system. Nozzles in the hood system did not release any wet chemical. According to the report, one inspector found wet chemical bottles disconnected and the copper tube fitting that joined the two bottles was disconnected, prohibiting the system from working. The “flared nut” at the line was also found disconnected, possibly by a hand wrench.
“Undetermined time of system to be disconnected and inoperable,” the report states. “The last annual service date for the suppression system was November 2018. The last cleaning service was December 2018.”
The managers and owners of Native Grill said they did not know the suppression system had been disconnected, according to the report.
The owners of Native Grill remain unsure when the Maricopa restaurant might reopen. Hopes had been for a March and then an April opening, but it might be May before the restaurant is back. Native Grill & Wings operated the beer garden at Salsa Festival, and owners have been referring customers to other Valley locations.