Steve Landeen, Deseret News
FILE - Firefighters put out hot spots at the Los Hermanos Mexican restaurant in Provo on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019.

PROVO — The fire that destroyed a popular Provo Mexican restaurant last week started when towels in a basement sink spontaneously ignited, fire officials said Wednesday.

The Feb. 11 blaze at Los Hermanos restaurant, 71 E. Center, was caused by newly-laundered towels that were placed in the sink, according to a statement from Provo Fire and Rescue officials. The fabric of the towels in the sink can "become embedded with oils over their lifespan" and can self-generate heat.

The fire was accidental, officials said.

Fire Marshal Lynn Schofield said that type of fire is "fairly uncommon."

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"There are lots of factors that have to come into perfect alignment for this type of fire, and in this case they did," according to the statement.

The basement location of the fire made it difficult and dangerous for crews to battle. One firefighter sustained a minor shoulder injury after falling down stairs, Provo Fire and Rescue officers said in a Facebook post.

A neighboring apartment building was evacuated twice as firefighters battled flames shooting through the roof. Residents took shelter from the cold in a Utah Transit Authority bus brought to house them temporarily.