Cool Hand Luke’s in Riverbank is expected to stay closed for about a week after a fire Tuesday night.
The fire broke out at the restaurant on Patterson Road at about 7 p.m., setting off the sprinkler system in the kitchen and prompting the evacuation of dozens of diners.
The fire was accidental, said Lt. Dave Hutchison, supervisor of the Fire Investigation Unit.
It started on a stove in the kitchen, got into the heating and air conditioning system and spread into the attic.
“The duct work over time will accumulate grease and if there is enough heat applied to it it will catch fire,” Hutchison said.
He said a special fire suppression system designed for grease fires either did not go off automatically or was not manually activated so the fire had time to spread and the sprinkler system activated.
Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District firefighters were on scene within three minutes of being dispatched to the fire, said Capt. Buck Condit.
He said all patrons and employees had been evacuated and were outside when firefighters arrived.
The fire on the stove was out when firefighters entered the building and they had to pull down a portion of the ceiling to get to the fire in the attic, then manually turn off the sprinkler system.
Harinder Toor, owner of Servpro of Turlock, is doing the fire restoration for the restaurant.
He said the restaurant was full when the fire started and some people waited around for a while and asked whether they’d still be getting their food. Those patrons had to find dinner elsewhere and other Cool Hand Luke’s fans will have to wait at least a week to get their fix, Toor said.
He said trusses need to be replaced in the attic, new ceiling tiles need to be installed and water damage needs to be addressed. Toor was at the restaurant Wednesday and said his team was working on drying the bar area, which water from the kitchen had flooded.