Firefighters work at a fire at Kozeta’s Restaurant on Route 302 in Westbrook on Monday afternoon. Westbrook Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte said that no one was in the restaurant at the time of the fire and that the cause is still under investigation. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Improperly discarded smoking materials caused a fire that destroyed a Westbrook restaurant and pizza shop and forced Westbrook police to shut down one of the city’s most heavily traveled roads for two hours Monday.

Westbrook Fire Chief Andrew Turcotte said the fire at Kozeta’s Restaurant was reported around 1 p.m. When firefighters arrived, they encountered heavy smoke and fire coming frm the rear of the wood frame building at 597 Bridgon Road.

“It appears to be a total loss,” Turcotte said Monday evening.

A firefighter looks for hot spots in the ceiling of Kozeta’s Restaurant on Route 302 in Westbrook, where a fire started Monday afternoon. Staff photo by Gregory Rec

Kozeta’s two owners, who were inside when the fire broke out, escaped without injury. Turcotte said customers had been eating at three tables inside the restaurant about 10 minutes before the fire. Turcotte said he does not know who discarded the smoking materials.

A section of Route 302 – also known as Bridgton Road – at Prides Corner in Westbrook was closed for a couple of hours Monday while crews from six fire departments fought the fire.

Turcotte said there was heavy fire in the rear of the building when firefighters arrived.

Westbrook was assisted by firefighters from Portland, Cumberland, Falmouth, Windham and Gorham. Westbrook police reopened Route 302 around 3:30 p.m.

Kozeta’s, at 597 Bridgton Road, describes itself on its Facebook page as a family-owned restaurant specializing in homemade pizza and breakfast. It also serves lunch and dinner.

Turcotte said the Westbrook Fire Department also responded to a fire on Brook Street Monday night. He said a resident improperly discarded ashes from a fireplace Sunday night in his backyard. Winds on Monday caused the ashes, which were still hot, to spread into a neighbor’s yard.

Turcotte said the ashes started a fire that threatened a garage, but crews were able to prevent the fire from damaging the garage.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]