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Why fire department says it can’t determine cause of El Sombrero fire
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Gainesville Fire Department firefighters work Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, at the El Sombrero restaurant on Browns Bridge Road. - photo by Scott Rogers

After two months of investigation, the Gainesville Fire Department said it cannot determine the cause of the El Sombrero fire.

The restaurant at 2010 Browns Bridge Road was a total loss after the Nov. 14 fire, which was reported at 5:30 a.m. and started in the rear of the building.

Arson was ruled out.

Fire Marshal Chad Payne said there are several factors making it difficult to determine the cause.

“The fire was called in by someone driving on Browns Bridge Road. Not a lot of people are out this time in the morning, which gave the fire a lot of time to burn before someone would have noticed it,” Payne wrote in a memo.

Because the fire was between the roof and the ceiling, it was difficult to extinguish. 

“The kitchen area at the rear of the building was where the fire originated. With the amount of heating devices that are located in the area, it was difficult to rule (out) all of these devices or appliances,” Payne wrote.

The heating and air units on the roof also could not be ruled out.