MAXTON — A firefighter credits employees of the Hardee’s restaurant here for keeping the fire that erupted there early Monday morning from getting out of control.
No one was injured, but the fire did an estimated $10,000 to $15,000 in damage to the restaurant at 642 N. Patterson St., said Lt. Webster Mitchell, of the Queheel Volunteer Fire Department.
The Queheel department received the call at 5:10 a.m., Mitchell said. The first truck was on the scene at 5:17 a.m. The fire was extinguished about 5:50 a.m.
“Most of the time there was mop-up,” Mitchell said.
Also called to the scene were firefighters and trucks from the Smith’s and Prospect fire departments, he said. A tanker truck from the Stewartsville fire department in Scotland County also assisted.
“All of them are 100 percent volunteers,” Mitchell said.
The first firefighters on the scene could see flames coming through the restaurant’s roof, Mitchell said. Firefighters went inside and extinguished the fire in the kitchen. Firefighters also climbed to the roof to make sure the flames and hot spots were extinguished.
The restaurant’s employees were key to limiting damage.
“They did what they could until it got too dangerous for them,” Mitchell said.
The employees had gathered in the Food Lion parking lot by the time firefighters arrived, he said.
“Employees advised fire department personnel that they were cooking bacon in a deep fryer when they heard a loud pop, then noticed the deep fryer was on fire,” said Stephanie Chavis, director of Robeson County Emergency Management.
Employees were leaving the restaurant through the back door when one of them grabbed a fire extinguisher located at the back door and extinguished the fire in the deep fryer, Chavis said in a statement. The employee prevented further damage, but damage already had been done to the ceiling and roof.
“At this time, it is believed that the fire was a result of a possible malfunction in equipment,” Chavis said in the release.
The fire is being investigated by the Maxton Police Department and the county Fire Marshal’s office, according to Maxton Police Chief Tammy Deese.
“Queheel fire department and surrounding departments performed an amazing job in extinguishing the fire and saving the building,” Deese wrote. “Prayers for the employees at this location, and we are blessed that no one was hurt.”
The Maxton location is the third Hardee’s restaurant in Robeson County to catch fire since Christmas Day, when the franchise in St. Pauls caught. The Pembroke Hardee’s caught fire twice on Jan. 5 and was destroyed.
No one was hurt in either fire.
A grease fire has been blamed for the blaze at the restaurant at 507 W. Broad St. in St. Pauls. The store had reopened.
The Hardee’s at 317 W. Third St. in Pembroke caught fire about 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 5. The fire was declared extinguished in less than 90 minutes. The fire reignited about five hours later and destroyed the restaurant, which has yet to reopen.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]