UPDATED: Lancaster Wendy’s erupts in fire

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.

Freddie Luna, who lives two houses down from the restaurant, said he smelled the smoke, came outside and saw Wendy’s employees coming down the street.

“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.

Sheriff’s deputies began asking residents in the adjacent houses to evacuate and asked bystanders to leave the alley behind the restaurant, as a safety precaution.

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.

“We thought it was like [when] somebody mixes cleaning ingredients wrong because it smelled, it didn’t smell like food or anything, it was just horrible. It was really strong.”

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.


  61 comments for “UPDATED: Lancaster Wendy’s erupts in fire

  1. Matt Keltner
    May 23, 2012 at 11:09 am

    I am told that Wendy’s will be re-built, but most likely in another location.

    • David Cox
      May 23, 2012 at 11:47 am

      It would make sense to rebuild at another location. The Lancaster of 1985 is not the same as the Lancaster of 2012.

      At the time of its 1985 opening, the hotel across the street was a great draw for Wendy’s, plus it was off Avenue I, which has several fast food places. Now the hotel is senior residential living, and the populace has changed. If Taco Bell can leave one location and have another nearby as it has, surely Wendy’s can do the same.

      I hope the restaurant’s employees either can find work at other restaurants in the company locally, or find other work. It’s tough going out there for so many people in the job market locally and beyond with the business climate and the economy the way it is. My prayers for them.

  2. Robert
    May 21, 2012 at 1:03 am

    This fire was a tragedy, but even more tragic than that is level of support I am seeing in my community. Does anyone even know what community means? Thank God that no one was hurt, and thank God for our firefighters. Every day I pray for everyone in our community, and that one day this community will turn to God for all their needs.

  3. Barb W
    May 18, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Employees probably didn’t know how to say evacuate in English! Last time I was there, I knew where the non-English speakers were working. Can you say “vamos pronto. Muy caliente en la cocina”? (pardon my Spanish. I refuse to learn it). They should have been cooking tacos & burritos there.

    • Robert
      May 21, 2012 at 12:38 am

      Very rude , and maybe your not even worthy to walk in their shoes.

    • Duvall foster
      May 23, 2012 at 10:15 am

      Very disrespectful, would you make the same comment if it were Taco Bell or Taco Tia. All you should have said was thank goodness no one was hurt.

  4. James
    May 17, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    After All Of The Comments Either Good Or Bad…..At Least Nobody Was Seriously Injured Or Killed!

    • Robert
      May 21, 2012 at 12:39 am

      Praise God!!!

  5. Me
    May 17, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    Not only should Wendy’s teach fire and safety, but also proper customer service. This Wendy’s had the worst customer service around.

    • Robert
      May 21, 2012 at 12:42 am

      We have had nothing but good service and good food at that Wendy’s.

      • Alex
        May 21, 2012 at 1:11 am

        Probably because you were the same race as the employees; and the way you are defending them, probably a worker or relative of a worker there.

        • Robert
          May 21, 2012 at 1:25 am

          Not true, just a God fearing citizen who cares for his community.

        • Robert
          May 21, 2012 at 1:31 am

          I’ll be praying for you, Alex.

  6. H8 Section8
    May 17, 2012 at 7:38 am

    Thank you to our L.A. County Firemen! Hopefully, they removed anything of value before any gettoittes go in and ransack the place.

  7. Luis L
    May 16, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    What i can see is the kid that started the fire, did not pull the chain, to suppers the fire. Also why was a canister of compressed air near a source of heat? Had the kid pull the chain, it may have been just a big ugly mess to clean up, and had the canister been in it’s proper place, the explosion probably would not happened. To Follow: Cal Osha will issue citations, the insurance may not kick in if what I say is true. Bottom line,had safety protocols been in place, we all wouldn’t be expressing our opinions on this issue!

    • Heather
      May 17, 2012 at 1:08 pm

      Wendy’s needs to retrain their staff. Our Taco Bell had a simple button you could press to activate the suppression system, no chains to pull. You could press the button on your way out of the kitchen while the fire was blazing and the suppression system would do it’s job while you helped clear the store. We had one employee who left a box of taco wrappers near the fryer, he was fired for not following safety procedures and improper storage of paper products.

      Stores these days needs to stop cutting corners on safety procedures. They are lucky they don’t have any wrongful death lawsuits to deal with cause of their improperly trained staff.

  8. Li
    May 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    In pic #5 it looks like a fireman is going into the burning building. Wonder if that’s the one who got blown back by the explosion? Either way, there’s nothing funny about it.

  9. JB
    May 16, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    “The fireman went in, tried to put it out, he got blowed up”

    “A bag of fries on the frying thing”

    LOLOLOLOLOL!!! Video interviews are priceless…

    p.s. I laugh about now it because I know for certain that the fireman is okay.

    • J. Ripper
      May 16, 2012 at 3:48 pm

      OK, the kid saying “the frying thing” is excusable, he’s a kid.

      “One of the fire… firemans… got hurt.”

      How come intelligible people never get interviewed in video interviews? Not just in this town, but especially so. We do have intelligent, intelligible people here, ya know!

    • Hmmm
      May 17, 2012 at 5:50 am

      Hood rats…

  10. Adam Chant
    May 16, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Here is a few interviews from the incident from customers and bystanders.


    Hands down the best interview in the history of the A.V. is from 0:11 to 0:24. 12 seconds of succinct facts. No disrespect, he’s to the point and funny too.

    • Jack
      May 17, 2012 at 10:15 am


      • Jill
        May 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

        “he got blowed up, and took to the hospital”! lololololololol

  11. Heather
    May 16, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    When I was manager at Taco Bell, we ensured all our employees were properly trained on Fire Safety and knew how to use the suppression systems. Even the smallest fire the store was evacuated and fire called to ensure it was safe. That was years ago.

    Now with people cutting corners, it looks like employees are not being trained to even use a fire extinguisher now.

    Sucks that there is now a fire gutted building that is just gonna sit there and be an eye sore now and that a group of people are now without jobs.

    Thankfully no one was hurt seriously and no other buildings were damaged.

    • JB
      May 16, 2012 at 12:41 pm

      Thank you for satisfying my curiosity. Because I seriously went searching on the Internet to see if it was standard protocol for fast food workers to have fire safety/evacuation training. It just seems so odd that customers are in the store oblivious while a fire is blazing away in the kitchen. From the first sign of smoke, an employee, any employee, should have shown the customers the door while another employee grabbed the fire extinguisher. It sucks that they are now all jobless, especially in THIS economy. Still, the situation could have much been worse. Thank God no one was hurt.

  12. John-Phoenix
    May 16, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I was dining in that restaurant Sunday evening and thought to myself, ‘they sure could use a remodel’. I am very glad that the only injury was minor and no one was killed. I was at a business, on Ave I, when I saw the smoke and knew something bad was happening. Sadly, most of these posts are very negative and selfish. As Wendy stated, ‘people are out of a job’! Where is the empathy when in the face of travesty? Also, if someone is seeking infamy for not realizing: There is a fire, should I probably leave? That is way beyond pathetic, it is horrific! Whatever happened to common freaking sense?

  13. Wendy McCallister
    May 16, 2012 at 10:06 am

    I remember when this place was being built. It was 1985 and I went in for an interview and they were going to hire me because my first name is Wendy and my last name was the name of thier insurance company. I personally am not a fan of fast food restaurants but it is still sad that this place is gone and people are out of a job.

  14. Nicole Dawson
    May 16, 2012 at 10:00 am

    That bystander should not be allowed to stand so close to a burning building. Especially during a fire with explosions!!

  15. BillyBob
    May 16, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Too bad they put it out. That whole square mile of the AV is worthless.

    • Robert
      May 21, 2012 at 12:49 am

      Get a life, billybob.

  16. Kate
    May 16, 2012 at 8:56 am

    looks like Wendy’s cutting corners on fire safety

  17. Linda
    May 16, 2012 at 8:53 am

    I was there when the fire started. The employees DID NOT yell at the customers to get out when she saw the smoke. There was a horrendous smell, all the employees exited the back area and I saw the smoke coming from the open door of the back area and told my daughter that we had to leave NOW. Fortunatly we were sitting by one of the doors. All the employees were outside by the door and the smell was getting worse. NO ONE said to “get out”. We left because it was such a horrible stench. Good thing too, because my car was parked in the place where the explosion happened. We left before the fire trucks arrived. As we were driving away we noticed the smoke getting thicker and a big cloud of dark smoke coming from the top of the building. I saw some of the other customers on the news and they said the firemen told them to get out NOT the employees. No wonder the employee didn’t want to be identified!

    • DUH
      May 16, 2012 at 10:43 am

      Come on, lets use some common sense. A minimum wage employee, probably all teenagers who have only seen a fire on a video game are now supposed to be life guards. Common sense didn’t tell you to exit when they did. Do we really need an exit plan from a fast food business when smoke and a foul odor is coming from the back. I am sure you can find an ambulance chasing attorney to file suit for being exposed to a life threatening situation and the exits signs were not well lit do to the smoke.

      • JB
        May 16, 2012 at 10:54 am

        Every commercial establishment should have a fire emergency evacuation plan. Offices have them, schools have them, why not a chain restaurant? I am pretty sure McDonalds has an emergency evacuation plan. At the very least, the Wendys workers could have had the courtesy to tell customers to leave instead of just selfishly fending for themselves. What if there was a customer in the bathroom? Luckily no one was hurt, but Wendys management needs to be brought to task if the employees left customers in the restaurant without telling them a fire was going on. No excuses!

        • DUH
          May 16, 2012 at 1:15 pm

          Check the youtube link posted above. There are multiple people who claimed to be inside and the employees told them to get out. Sounds like evac plan executed no employees or patrons injured. Sad the FD suffered an injury, but the earlier post sounds more like an opportunist to file a law suit, probably not in the building. We’d check the video surveillance but it burned.

          Hey maybe I was in their too, can I get in on the class action lawsuit that has about 100 attorneys chomping at teh bit to file…

          • Linda
            May 16, 2012 at 4:18 pm

            Yes, remember the boy & the lady. They were together. The first guy in the link wasn’t in there. I guess I left before anyone said “get out”. I didn’t wait, because the place smelled horrendous. Geez, if you see smoke, smell something horrible, see the employees running out the door & you don’t leave the building, then it’s not Wendy’s fault you don’t have the common sense to leave. I’m not filing a lawsuit, I had originally responded to the original article stating the employee didn’t want to be identified and that she immediately screamed at everyone to get out. It definitely wasn’t immediate.

      • John-Phoenix
        May 16, 2012 at 11:08 am

        Sadly, with a bag of GOLD some people would not be able to afford enough common sense to realize, ‘It looks dangereous, should I leave now?’ Reality check: That dining facility has never been overly busy. Where there is smoke, it may be a fire? Leave! Or should the parent be brought up on child endangerment charges for not reacting to this unsafe situation?

      • AV Town Crier
        May 16, 2012 at 11:22 am

        R. Rex Parris–Protecting You.

    • J. Ripper
      May 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      Were you too busy eating your quintuple Baconator to hear them? I’m just wondering, since there are at least 2 or 3 people in the video who said the employees did tell people to get out.

    • J. Ripper
      May 16, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Were you too busy eating your quintuple Baconator to hear them? I’m just curious, since there are at least a couple people in the video claiming to be in the restaurant and who heard the employees telling people to get out.

  18. jim
    May 16, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Not upset Wendys is gone worst fast food rest. in AV never remember not getting piissed off there.

    • T-Bone
      May 17, 2012 at 6:06 am

      Why did you keep going back then? That’s stupid! After 2 times and you continue to go back…That’s on you! There are many places to eat in Lancaster!

  19. May 16, 2012 at 6:14 am

    This is SO SAD. I remember going there as a kid after Missoula Play practice at LPAC! This has always been my favorite wendy’s … so many childhood memories.

  20. mari661
    May 16, 2012 at 5:35 am

    We saw the fire yesterday and then my 7 year old had nightmares all night thinking our house going to burn down.

    • DUH
      May 16, 2012 at 10:45 am

      What ever you do, don’t expose your daughter to life.

      • Eric
        May 16, 2012 at 12:28 pm

        Yeah, that was necessary. What a troll. Nevermind all of the staff there who are, at least, temporarily, out of a job. They’re not important. What IS important is that you critcize someone else who merely wanted to share their child’s reaction to witnessing something that is very traumatic to young children. Pat yourself on the back for that one.

  21. Edward
    May 16, 2012 at 1:44 am

    I am truly sad. This restaurant was the place I rode my bike too as a child. So many memories here. I am crying and devastated.

    • T-Bone
      May 16, 2012 at 5:29 am

      Come on Edward…Crying over Wendy’s! I went there too, It’s a bummer, but Crying…Grow some Huevos Eddie!

      • Maria
        May 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

        Lol I agree with you!! Yea yea we all know Wendy’s has been there forever but don’t cry about it dude!! I’m sure they’ll replace it with a brand new building.

        • wild
          May 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm

          yeah maybe they could put another TOM’S # 1,000 there or another Valarta or a $.99 store or a Walmart or something else we don’t need around here in the GHETTOLOPE VALLEY anymore…

          • J. Ripper
            May 16, 2012 at 1:24 pm

            LOL, Ghettolope Valley… thanks for the term! Love it

          • wild
            May 23, 2012 at 8:48 am

            no problem…I got tired of hearing “PALMPTON” and “LANDSCATTER”…”GHETTOLOPE VALLEY” takes care of it all from Rosamond to Ana Verde…which by the way…is the biggest joke to be concieved out here…Ana Verde…they should have called it “DUMP VIEW ESTATES”

  22. clare
    May 15, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    o my god that is wear i got my first job know it is gone

    • Tracy
      May 16, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Is this the literacy level of everyone working at Wendy’s? If so, perhaps they’ll go back to school. Come on – I don’t mean to attack, but if you’re going to post in a public forum, let’s use a little correct grammar.

      • Maria
        May 16, 2012 at 10:26 am

        That is exactly why this place caught on fire, they hired people that didn’t know what they were doing!!! Man this sucks my cousin and I ate there all the time as kids.

      • clare
        May 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm

        how this [removed] off [removed].

  23. raybabi
    May 15, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Damn, no more baked potatoes…..oh well at least everyone is safe.

    • DUH
      May 16, 2012 at 10:47 am

      I think they have a few well done potatoes available

      • wild
        May 16, 2012 at 12:21 pm


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