A fire severely damaged Flames Mediterranean and American Grill on Daniel Street in downtown Milford Sunday night, Dec. 16.

Battalion Chief Anthony Fabrizi said dispatchers received a 911 call at 8:56 p.m. reporting a fire inside the restaurant from an employee of a neighboring restaurant who discovered the fire after someone reported smelling smoke in the area.

“Firefighting units arrived on scene and found the restaurant charged with thick black smoke,” Fabrizi said in a release.

Fire crews forced entry through the front doors and pulled hose lines into the building to suppress the blaze, Fabrizi said. The fire was under control in about 15 minutes.

“Although firefighters managed to gain control of the blaze very quickly, the business suffered extensive heat and smoke damage,” he said.

An adjacent real estate office and barber shop were not affected by the fire.

The Milford Fire Marshal’s division is investigating the incident; a cause has not officially been released.

The restaurant, which offers traditional Middle Eastern dishes and American dishes, including its popular Flames Burger, was reported to be closed for the evening at the time of the blaze.

“When a structure fire occurs, it is imperative to evacuate the residence and call 911 from outside of the building,” Fabrizi said. “As a reminder, proper functioning smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Please check yours today.”

According to a Connecticut Post article, the restaurant opened in May 2017 by Walied Hanaif of Palestinian descent, who now lives in Ansonia. Hanaif moved to the United States from Egypt with his family at about age 13.

Hanaif said he always wanted to open a sit-down restaurant — he previously owned a deli in New York City — but couldn’t find the right location. Then, on a trip for ice cream in downtown Milford, he drove by the former bookstore at 12 Daniel St.

Sunday’s fire was the second one to heavily damage a Milford restaurant this season.

On Halloween night, Scribner’s Restaurant — a Milford landmark for 45 years — was hit by a fire.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help workers who lost their jobs. As of Monday, more than $5,600 has been raised.