SAVANNAH — A restaurant in Savannah owned by well-known Southern chef Paula Deen reopened for lunch on Monday following a late night fire.
Savannah Fire and Emergency Services Capt. Matt Stanley says firefighters responded to a blaze about 11 p.m. Sunday at The Lady & Sons eatery. He says the blaze apparently started in a laundry bag full of linens and rags.
Stanley says investigators believe the rags had oils in them that broke down and generated their own heat, causing a spontaneous combustion. No injuries were reported. He says the fire generated heavy smoke, but firefighters were able to pull the bag from the restaurant and no water had to be used to douse the blaze.
Contacted by telephone Monday morning, Deen’s publicist, Nancy Assuncao, told The Associated Press that the restaurant had reopened and planned to serve lunch.
‘‘I think if we get one round of fried chicken goin’ in here you won’t smell the smoke at all,’’ one of Deen’s son, Jamie Deen, told the Savannah Morning News after the fire.
He rushed to the restaurant along with his mother, Paula Deen, her husband, Michael Groover, and his brother, Bobby Deen, soon after the fire broke out.
Firefighters at fist refused to let Paula Deen, who was wearing a robe and slippers, beyond the yellow security tape to get closer to the restaurant. She went under the tape and was quickly returned behind it. She was allowed to go through the tape when a firefighter recognized her.
Deen opened her downtown restaurant in 1996 and watched her popularity explode after her TV show, ‘‘Paula’s Home Cooking,’’ debuted on the Food Network in 2002.