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Restaurant fat fryer responsible for massive Isla Mujeres blaze

Isla Mujeres, Q.R. — An intense fire that began inside a restaurant on the island devoured several other businesses despite the desperate efforts of locals. On Monday morning, dozens of people armed with fire extinguishers tried their best to contain a palapa fire that began inside the Mocambo restaurant.

For more than 20 minutes, local islanders scrambled to beat back the flames that quickly spread across the restaurant’s rooftop and, with the help of wind gusts, to other neighboring businesses. The fire began around 11:00 a.m. Monday on the island’s main Avenida Rueda Medina.

According to Merced Ortiz Maya, director of municipal Civil Protection, the fire was started by a fat fryer inside the restaurant. Flames were fast to move upward, making their way to the extremely dry grass rooftop where it continued to consume five more businesses before flames were officially extinguished.

Ortiz Maya said that the other affected businesses included Miramar, La Luna and Picus restaurants as well as two handicraft shops. As flames moved from shop to shop, business owners hurried to remove what they could from inside their premises, emptying their loads onto the main street before hurrying back for another.

Dozens of people were spread out along the avenue helping to empty what they could of valuables before the flames devoured the next business. Local firemen eventually arrived and spent several hours putting out the fire that caused at least six businesses to be reduced to ash. Other local media report at least 10 businesses were affected by the out of control blaze.