Why More Than 8,000 Restaurants Catch Fire Every Year

Grease fires, gas leaks, and faulty wiring lead to more than $200 million in property damage annually

by Siobhán Brett  Sep 6, 2018, 9:32am EDT

Bruno Serato ignored the call that came through to his cellphone one night after 4 a.m. The French-born Italian chef had worked until midnight and was too exhausted to pick up. The caller left a voicemail, which struck him as unusual. He sat up and played it. According to the brief message, there was a fire at Anaheim White House, the restaurant in Southern California he had run for nearly 30 years. “I thought it was a joke,” Serato says.

It was a busy weekend at the restaurant with a string of more busy weekends on the horizon, and Serato wasn’t inclined to drive 30 miles round-trip for a prank. But once it became clear that the call was serious, he drove to Anaheim at top speed.