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CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Sushi ingredient spontaneously combusts, causing fire at Madison restaurant

Madison (WQOW) – Video shows a sushi topping spontaneously combusting in a Wisconsin restaurant hours after closing.

There have actually been two fires at two different restaurants recently in Madison: one was at Sumo Steakhouse in April, the other was at Takara Japanese Restaurant in May. The video is from the Sumo fire in April. In it, you can see the flames break out in the kitchen after 2 a.m., long after everyone left the restaurant.

After investigation, firefighters now believe both fires are a result of a technique used to make a sushi topping often referred to as “crunch” or “crunchy”. The garnish is made with water and flour batter, deep fried, and left to drain and cool.

There are three reasons crunch can self-heat: vegetable oil, deep-frying batter, and allowing the crunch to pile up and cool unattended. Cooking oils can sometimes self-heat under certain circumstances. Madison Fire Department Investigator Kara Nelson said it’s very similar to how hay bale fires start.

Now the Madison Fire Department is hoping to partner with a lab to learn more about how this happens.

Savanna Tomei

Savanna is the 6 p.m. producer and co-anchor, and also anchors the 10 p.m. newscast.

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