Spontaneous combustion sparks fire at Windmill Cafe in Savage

The scene inside the Windmill Cafe in Savage after a spontaneous combustion started the restaurant on fire last month. 

Standing outside the Windmill Cafe in Savage, things look the way they have for the last 50 years. 

But take one step inside the front door, and it’s clear that things are definitely not normal. Everything from the coffee cups to the daily specials sign is covered in thick, black soot. 

"All I want to do is just start scrubbing. That's just always been what we do is clean it up and get it ready for the next day," said Kari Whetsel, who owns the Windmill Cafe with her husband, Adam Langfeld. 

"That's the worst part. I want so badly to be open again," Whetsel told FOX 9. 

At some point on the evening of Jan. 24, a fire broke out on the diner's counter, forcing Whetsel and Langfeld to close the restaurant's doors indefinitely. 

An investigation by the State Fire Marshal revealed cooking grease residue on freshly washed rags spontaneously combusted, sparking the smoldering flames. 

Whetsel and Langfeld bought the cafe from the original owners in January 2020 and have already weathered a month-long shutdown and COVID restrictions. 

Until they can open again, their concern is with their nine full- and part-time employees. 

"Insurance should take care of all the stuff, but it doesn't help the people who work for us," said Langfeld. 

"It's literally our heart and soul and it's the heart and soul of everybody else that loves this place," said Whetsel. 

A GoFundMe page has been established to help Windmill Cafe workers with their lost wages. 

It's still unclear when the restaurant will be open again, but the owners say their best-case scenario would be to have things up and running again by June.