The fire that destroyed a popular Brandon restaurant Monday night started in the attic space above the kitchen, investigators said.
However, the cause of the blaze at Ben’s Family Restaurant, 704 E. Brandon Blvd., remains under investigation, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.
The fire department estimated the value of damages at about $900,000. On Monday, a department spokesman said the restaurant appeared to be total loss.
The commercial kitchen and appliances were ruled out as possible causes by fire investigators.
Firefighters were called to the restaurant about 5 p.m. and needed about an hour to control the blaze. The restaurant was occupied but safely evacuated, and no injuries were reported.
The attic was cited as the ignition area based on employee accounts and that no interior alarm was activated, investigators said.
Firefighters reported that the roof collapsed as they battled the fire. Witnesses said they heard things falling above them and then saw a lot of smoke coming from the ceiling, the fire department said.
The family-owned restaurant has been in business for 30 years, according to its Facebook page.