SPRINGFIELD — If you were out and about in West Springfield Saturday, you may have seen this spectacle at the McDonald’s across from Bass Pro.
It was around Noon when a fire started outside the McDonald’s at 501 W. Sunshine, causing damage inside and outside the store.
Public Relations Director at McDonalds, Kristen Bergman, says that it was extensive enough to close the restaurant indefinitely.
“It’s typical around lunch time to have anywhere from 20-50 guests in a restaurants. We are so busy at lunch on a Saturday. Nobody ever plans on this to happen,” Bergman explains.
As soon as it became apparent there was a fire, the fire department was called and the store was evacuated.
“We were thankfully able to evacuate all of our guests and employees so that everyone was safe whenever the smoke began,” says Bergman.
One of the guests at the store during the fire was Mikayla Lee, who says she say employees trying to put the fire out with cups of water before crews arrived. This is what she heard happened.
“There’s wood chips over where the bushes are over on the side of the building, and what happened was somebody didn’t put their cigarette out. So it caught fire and started escalating,” Lee says.
Battalion Chief Heith Aldridge with the Springfield Fire Department says that could be the case, but they can’t yet confirm that a cigarette was the cause.
“That’s one possibility, unfortunately we have not been able to locate the cigarette. We can’t at this point determine — we are going to call it an accidental fire that started in the mulch area, probably with a cigarette, but we can’t say that for a certainty,” Aldridge says.
Aldridge says the fire worked it’s way from the ground up, up the wall and into the ceiling. These types of calls require extra caution.
“We’re always concerned with a restaurant construction like this, because of the history of their roof failures. Most of their air conditioning units are on the roof so any fire to those structures causes them to sag and fail quickly,” explains Aldridge.
Meanwhile, Bergman says McDonald’s is keeping it’s employees in mind as it works to re-open.
“We are working right now to just connect with all of our employees to make sure we are able to work with them in some of our other stores,” explains Bergman.
Bergman says that with it being a weekend, it can take some extra time to work with insurance adjusters and get a game plan together for what the next move will be.
She estimates that by late Monday, they should have a better idea on a timetable to re-open that location.