MAXTON — An early morning kitchen fire at Hardee’s shut down the Maxton restaurant for much of Monday.
The fire began in the fry area, but workers prevented the blaze from damaging much of the building, according to the Queheel Volunteer Fire Department.
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.
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.
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.
“The quick thinking of the girls that were in there, using the fire extinguishers. otherwise it could have been much worse.” Gales said. “We think it went up through the ventilation. We were able stop it before it penetrated the roof.”
The employees had gathered in the Food Lion parking lot by the time firefighters arrived, Mitchell 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.
Maxton police and the Robeson County Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the fire.
“Officers immediately evaluated employees and the vehicles out of the parking lot,” Maxton Police Chief Tammy Deese said. “Queheel Fire Department and surrounding departments performed an amazing job in extinguishing the fire and saving the building. We are blessed that no one was hurt.”
Several customers stopped to ask firefighters what was going on before heading off to find another place to get breakfast.
A district manager for Hardee’s was at the site but declined to comment on the fire or when the store would re-open.
The Maxton location is the third Hardee’s in neighboring Robeson County to catch fire. The Hardee’s at 507 W. Broad St. in St. Pauls burned on Christmas Day.
Barely two weeks later, a second Hardee’s, located at 317 W. Third St. in Pembroke, fell victim to two fires in a single day.
The Pembroke location 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 this time it destroyed the structure.
Reach katelin Gandee at 910-276-2311