BRENTWOOD -- A popular Mexican restaurant in the downtown area escaped major damage when its oven caught fire early Monday morning, authorities said.

The one-alarm blaze started around 8:46 a.m. at the La Fuente Mexican Restaurant, 642 First St., East County Fire Batallion Chief Jeff Burris said. The restaurant has an automatic sprinkler system designed to put out grease fires in the kitchen but it was not activated, Burris said.

No injuries were reported, and the restaurant is expected to reopen. The kitchen received the most damage, although there was some damage to the building's exterior, Burris said.

The blaze was extinguished at 8:59 a.m. by crews from a fire station two blocks away.

The restaurant's owner, Oscar Olvera, said cooks in the restaurant "panicked" when the fire broke out and immediately called the fire department instead of turning off the gas behind the grill. He said the sprinkler system was not activated because the fire was not big enough, though Burris could not confirm his theory. He also said he had the system serviced last week.

Check back for details.

Contact Rick Hurd at 925-945-4789 and follow him at Twitter.com/3rdERH. Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164 and follow him at Twitter.com/PaulBurgarino.



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