Fire investigators have determined the cause of a fire that damaged a restaurant in downtown Palo Alto over the weekend.

The blaze, which burned Saturday at the restaurant Zibibbo at 430 Kipling St. began as a cooking fire as kitchen staff prepared a dish, fire department spokeswoman Barbara Cimino said.

Flames spread into a nearby duct and melted wires that would have activated the restaurant’s fire extinguishing system, according to the fire department.

Employees attempted unsuccessfully to manually activate the fire suppression system, but the blaze continued to burn and eventually spread through the entire exhaust ducting system.

Fire officials plan to continue their investigation with an analysis of the engineering flaw that allowed the restaurant’s fire system to be compromised.

Maintenance records indicate the system was working properly and had been serviced recently, according to the fire department.

The fire department estimates it will take about a month before the restaurant becomes fully operational again.

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