ROCK SPRINGS – An early morning fire in the A&W kitchen at the Cruel Jack’s Travel Plaza was started accidentally Wednesday, according to fire investigators.

Sweetwater County Fire District No. 1 responded at 3:41 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, to Cruel Jack’s Travel Plaza at 8 Purple Sage Road after a fire was discovered in the kitchen area of the restaurant, according to a press release. Travel Plaza employees discovered the fire and notified 911. The fire engulfed and destroyed the entire kitchen area and caused extensive smoke and water damage in the remaining areas of the building.

The Rock Springs Fire Department assisted with a ladder truck due to the extent of the blaze and difficulties accessing portions of the fire.

The fire was extinguished as of 7 a.m. Wednesday. Damage estimates are not available at this time, according to the release. Fire investigators from Sweetwater County Fire District No. 1 and the Wyoming State Fire Marshal’s Office conducted a joint investigation Wednesday morning. After an extensive investigation that included scene examination, interviews and review of security surveillance videos, fire investigators determined the fire to be accidental in nature.

The on-scene video surveillance system recorded the start of the fire in a pile of rags on a shelf in the kitchen area. Investigators determined that the cause of ignition was spontaneous combustion from oil-saturated rags, according to a press release. Spontaneous combustion of oily rags occurs when rag or cloth is slowly heated to its ignition point through oxidation, according to the Bend, Oregon, fire department. A substance will begin to release heat as it oxidizes. If this heat has no way to escape, like in a pile, the temperature will raise to a level high enough to ignite the oil and ignite the rag or cloth.

Although no civilians were injured in Wednesday’s fire, one firefighter received second-degree burns to a small area on his shoulder.

Sweetwater County Fire District No. 1 thanks the RSFD, Sweetwater Medics, Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office and Sweetwater County Combined Communications Center for all their assistance.

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