Photo Credit: DAVID F. ASHTON - The smoke pouring over this Sizzler restaurant wasnt from burned steak; the back of the building was on fire. That wasn’t an overdone steak or burned chicken on the charbroiler that filled the Sizzler Restaurant with thick dark smoke, on Tuesday evening, July 29, and hustled all the customers outside. No, the place was on fire.

The employees and customers gathered in the back of the parking lot of the restaurant at 3700 S.E. 82nd Avenue of Roses, just north of Eastport Plaza, while firefighters worked to extinguish a blaze, which had been reported at 7:02 pm.

“I was in a walkway next to the kitchen when I smelled smoke,” an employee told THE BEE. “We noticed that the lobby was filling up with smoke, and it started coming into the dining room. Everything was okay in the kitchen; someone looked into the attic, and saw the fire.”

Four minutes after the dispatch, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Lents Engine 11 arrived, and radioed in the “size-up” – the initial report. The lieutenant said that fire was burning up the siding at the back of the restaurant, and extending into the attic.

Firefighters from four additional stations were there within minutes.

“The restaurant was occupied at the time, but everyone was able to evacuate safely,” said PF&R Public Information Officer Lt. Rich Chatman. “No injuries were reported.”

After the fire was extinguished, Chatman said that fire investigators were able to determine that the fire had started from a cigarette improperly discarded in barkdust near the building.

“Damage estimates are set at $40,000,” Chatman added. “PF&R reminds that, due to unusually dry and warm weather, [you should] use caution when smoking near combustible vegetation. Discard cigarettes in proper fire-safe containers with a lid.”

Watching the firefighters pull burning cinders from the back of the restaurant, the employee said, “This is something that I used to think happened to other people. It was pretty intense.” The Sizzler is temporarily closed for repairs.

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