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Fire at Armadillo Willy's Closes San Antonio Road for Two Hours

Fire inside wall closes barbeque restaurant through Friday lunch service; CEO hopes to reopen by the weekend.

A small fire burning inside a wall at restaurant broke out at about 1:30 p.m Thursday, triggering the closure of San Antonio Road. 

Los Altos Police Agent Neal Randles said police shut down both directions of traffic on San Antonio Road from El Camino Real to Sherwood Avenue while crews ran a hose across the street to the closest hydrant.

 After about a half hour, police were able to open lanes for southbound traffic towards Los Altos. Northbound traffic towards Mountain View, however, was closed until about 4 p.m., Randles said.

"It looks like the fire initiated inside the wall between our kitchen and storeroom," said Armadillo Willy's president and CEO, Bob Deagen, via email.  "Fortunately an employee noticed some smoke seeping through the wall and notified the manager right away."

The fire was contained to a small area about six feet wide, Deagen said, and it was quickly extinguished by the which provides fire services to Los Altos.

Armadillo Willy's could possibly be open as early as dinner Friday, but Deagen estimated the restaurant would likely be open for the weekend, if inspections go well.

"We were very fortunate this didn’t happen in the middle of the night when nobody would have noticed it until a lot of damage was done."

The cause of the fire is not yet known. Deagen said it was possibly due to a build-up of heat within the wall. 

The closure of San Antonio Road attracted widespread attention.

"When it first started there was a little bit of smoke coming out the back," said Gary Beal who works at More Flavor next door. "There were no flames going out of the roof, though." 

Since their customers couldn't get through for a while, some employees of More Flavor sauntered out to talk to police and firefighters on hand. The shop sells equipment for home coffee roasting, home beer brewing and home wine-making. 

"It kind of broke up the afternoon," Beal allowed. "The biggest problem was they had to tear out the wall, so they were there for three hours."

Restoration workers who do clean-up of fire sites, arrived at the restaurant shortly after the fire crews cleared the scene, said Agent Randles, who briefly went inside.

"It was a smoky smell, but it wasn't the wonderful smoky smell you normally associate with the place," he quipped.

Santa Clara County Fire Department, which provide fire fighting services to Los Altos, was not available to answer questions about the nature of the fire nor the damage estimate. The spokespersons were occupied with a large grass fire on the east side of Morgan Hill that was threatening homes.

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