A fire early Friday began in the kitchen area of Jill's Place restaurant in Santa Barbara. (Urban Hikers photo)

A fire early Friday began in the kitchen area of Jill’s Place restaurant in Santa Barbara. (Urban Hikers photo)

Firefighters responded early Friday to a two-alarm fire at a downtown restaurant, according to the Santa Barbara Fire Department.

The blaze was reported at about 3:45 a.m. at Jill’s Place, 632 Santa Barbara Street, said fire Capt. Gary Pitney.

The first crews on scene found smoke coming from a rear door and from the air-conditioning vents on the roof of the single-story building, Pitney said.

Firefighters forced open the rear door and encountered heavy smoke and zero visibility, Pitney said, adding that no flames could be seen.

Using thermal-imaging equipment, firefighters traced the source of the blaze to the restaurant’s kitchen, and quickly had the fire under control, Pitney said.

Investigators were still looking for the cause of the blaze, which Pitney described as a “slow, smoldering type of fire.”

There were no reports of injuries, and the prelimary damage estimate was $50,000 to the structure and $25,000 to the contents, Pitney said.

Jill Shalhoob, owner of the restaurant, was out of town when the fire broke out, and was heading back to town Friday afternoon.

She said the business suffered mainly smoke damage, and she hopes to be back in operation within a month.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at tbolton@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.