HUNTINGTON, Ind. (WANE) — The fire that gutted the popular Pizza Junction in Huntington was apparently caused by spontaneous combustion.

Pizza Junction said in a post on its Facebook page Thursday that the May 13 fire began on the restaurant’s back deck in a small, 3-gallon pot that held potting mix.

Pizza Junction said in the post that fire investigators believe “given the weather conditions that day spontaneous combustion was the cause of ignition.”

Spontaneous combustion occurs when an organic matter ignites from self-heating, caused through internal rapid oxidation.

Pizza Junction said in the post video footage confirm the fire started in the pot.

It was around 2 p.m. when flames were spotted along the side of the building. The fire burned for some 2 1/2 hours before fire crews were able to get the flames under control, by 4:30 p.m.

Afterward, the popular pizzeria’s interior was left destroyed, badly charred throughout.

Ron Friedman, a chemistry professor at PFW, said the reaction had to have all the right circumstances.

Even the size of the grains of soil in the pot matter, “If you think about some material that is very fine and that have a larger surface area for exposure to materials that usually would tend to be much more reactive,” he said about what makes for a bigger reaction.

While Friedman isn’t certain of exactly what led to the fire starting, his best guess is that once it did start in the pot it continued to grow, and fast.

“then as it gives off more heat, then it just it just an exponential type of effect, right that more of it would then burn and then the fire would get bigger and bigger.”

Ron Friedman

In a Facebook post after the fire, Pizza Junction called the fire “devastating” and said it “resulted in the loss of our building and business for the foreseeable future.”

Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

Pizza Junction has said it was “committed to getting back on our feet.” A GoFundMe* was launched to support the business and its employees until that happens.

Owner Austin Dettling said that he hopes to return within the year, and also says that the dining room will retain all of it’s historic value.

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