Pizza on fire (illustrative)
Pizza on fire (illustrative)iStock

A flambéed pizza is believed to have sparked a fire in a restaurant in Madrid, Spain, on Friday night, killing two people and injuring 12 others, city officials said Saturday.

Speaking to Spain’s state television TVE, Madrid Mayor Jose Luis Martinez Almeida said, "It appears the fire started when a flambéed pizza was being served, which set fire to the decorations in the restaurant."

"Firefighters told me it was a ferocious fire in the way it started and the smoke it generated, and if the fire station wasn’t just 100 meters (around 330 feet) away, the number of fatalities could have been higher."

A diner who gave her name only as Ruth told the El País daily that the waiter "had the plate in flames in one hand and the blowtorch in the other. He passed by a column with plants round it and in a matter of seconds it burned everything."

Flambé style cooking involves a procedure where spirits are poured on the food and briefly set alight.

Reuters quoted the mayor as telling reporters that one of the dead was a restaurant employee and the other was a customer.

Madrid fire chief Carlos Marin explained that the restaurant had "just one exit, and since the fire was very close to the door, people went back to the rear of the restaurant, and they were completely trapped."

At the same time, the mayor emphasized that, "The fire was put out less than 10 minutes after the alarm was raised."