LANCASTER – Firefighters in the Antelope Valley battled another fire Tuesday, this one at the Wendy’s restaurant at 45101 10th street west, between Avenue I and Jackman Street.
The fire started around 4:30 p.m., according to a Wendy’s employee who did not want to be identified. “I hope everyone made it out okay,” the employee said.
Another Wendy’s employee said a grease fire in the deep fryer started the blaze, but this was not confirmed by fire officials on the scene.
“I was like ‘man, they burned my Wendy’s down!’” Luna said.
He said shortly after the fire started, the fumes coming into his front yard were so strong he had to walk down the street with his dog just to get some fresh air.
Around 5:15 p.m. there was an explosion that injured a firefighter. He was taken from the scene by paramedics.
Another explosion occurred shortly after.
Flames could be seen coming through the roof of the restaurant as firefighters battled the blaze. Firefighters were also knocking out the windows in the front of the store to put out the flames.
The entire structure appeared to be gutted by the fire. The fire was reportedly knocked down around 6:03 p.m. The AV Times will have more on this story as more information becomes available.
Updated at 8:30 p.m., 5/15/2012:
L.A. County Assistant Fire Chief Gerald Cosey said five engines, two ladder trucks and a paramedic’s squad responded to the first-alarm commercial building fire, and confirmed the fire was knocked down at 6:03 p.m., Tuesday.
“We had a firefighter that got injured in an explosion,” Cosey said. “He was evaluated at the hospital and then released home.”
Cosey confirmed the Wendy’s employee’s account that the blaze originated from a grease fire in the deep fryer.
“That’s where we’re at right now with the cause,” Cosey said. He said no Wendy’s employees or customers were injured in the fire. “This will be treated as an accidental fire,” Cosey said.
UPDATED at 9:30 a.m., 5/16/2012:
Wendy’s customer Linda Newberger said she was in the fast food restaurant with her daughter during the time of the fire. Newberger estimates the fire began around 4:30 p.m., Tuesday (her sales receipt was stamped 4:27 p.m.).
She said there was line of at least seven customers in the restaurant at the time. Newberger said she was sitting with her daughter by the door when she saw Wendy’s employees coming from the back.
“When they came out, the door opened and you could see some smoke, and it smelled really horrible,” said Newberger.
Newberger said the employees did not evacuate the customers.
“Nobody told anybody to get out, they were just standing by the door,” she said. “When I saw the smoke I told my daughter ‘we better get out of here now!’”
Newberger said as she walked to her car she could see more smoke coming from inside the restaurant.
“By the time we were heading north on 10th west, I could see the smoke getting more intense and a big billow of smoke coming out the top, so that’s probably when the explosion happened,” Newberger said.
CORRECTION: Due to Newberger’s account of what happened, we have removed certain portions of the story as told by a Wendy’s employee who did not want to be identified. We apologize for the inconvenience and regret the error.
UPDATED at 1 p.m., 5/16/12:
AVMedia has released video of the Wendy’s fire. The video includes interviews with customers who were inside the fast food restaurant during the time of the fire. View the video below.