Fire officials have ruled that the latest blaze to hit Charley’s Restaurant and Lounge — its third total and second in about two months — wasn’t deliberately set.

Mankato officials reported that it’s likely the Oct. 16 fire was caused by spontaneous combustion within a linen bag, itself possibly saturated with highly-flammable soybean oil. The dollar loss was pegged at about $450,000.

The report said firewalls contained the fire but heat spread and damaged the entire building.

A neighbor saw smoke rising from Charley’s just before 6 a.m. and ran to Quick Mart Hilltop, which is next to the restaurant. An employee called firefighters, who arrived minutes later, broke down the front door and quickly put out the fire, which was confined to the kitchen and storage room.

About 30 police, firefighters and rescuers responded to the call, at 920 E. Madison Ave. No injuries were reported.

The kitchen and storage rooms were the hardest hid and smoke damaged the rest.

Donita Jahnke, a Quick Mart employee, said the day of the fire that restaurant owners Charley and Gail Sadaka blamed electrical problems due to faulty installation.

Jahnke also said then that the couple “broke down” and thought the building might be a total loss.

Charley’s had been open just five weeks after a small Aug. 7 fire that caused thousands of dollars in damage, mostly from smoke. That fire probably began after a large fan caught fire and tipped over, torching nearby laundry. That blaze could have been much worse, as evidenced by a melted cord wrapped around a gas pipe that would have destroyed the entire building if it had ignited.

Flames also destroyed much of the building in 1993 after a napkin caught fire.

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