Small grease fire causes Wendy’s to close

Published 8:08 am Wednesday, May 6, 2009

FRANKLIN—Wendy’s Restaurant on Armory Drive remained closed Tuesday night after an employee used a fire extinguisher to snuff out a grease fire earlier in the day.

Workers were observed on the roof of the structure Tuesday afternoon making repairs at the restaurant, located at 1371 Armory Drive.

Meanwhile, a steady stream of customers who approached the building were turned away by employees and several paper signs that read “closed due to equipment failure.”

Franklin Fire & Rescue Chief Vince Holt said the fire occurred around 9 a.m.

“Their deep fat fryer apparently boiled over a little bit,” Holt said. “They have a grill right next to that, and when the grease got on the hot grill it caused a small kitchen fire. But they took appropriate action and evacuated the business. One of the employees was successful in using a fire extinguisher (to put out the fire).”

Holt said there was very little damage to the building, and there were no injuries.

“There’s just a lot of cleanup that needs to be done to the kitchen,” Holt said.

Commenting on the employees’ response to the fire, Holt added, “They did the right thing. They evidently followed their procedures as far as evacuating the store. One of the employees did take some action. Just when they finished using the fire extinguisher they got out to a fresh area which prevented them from being exposed to the smoke.

“Things worked out pretty good for them, all things considered,” Holt said.

It wasn’t clear how many people were in the building at the time of the fire. Holt said he saw about four or five Wendy’s employees at the scene. Firefighters were on the scene for less than 20 minutes.

“Fortunately we didn’t have to use a hose line,” Holt said. “We secured the utilities for them. We cut off the gas to make sure the deep fat fryer and the griddle would continue to cool off. Then we turned the store back over to them so they could begin the process of getting it cleaned back up.”

Charlotte Brayman, an environmental health inspector with the Southampton County Health Department, said both she and a building inspector visited the restaurant after Tuesday’s fire.

“The facility is closed,” Brayman said. “They have to pass the requirements of the building inspector, who does the final check-up after a fire to make sure everything is straight. They have a punch list to follow with the building inspector. Then I’ll go down there again and do another check-through before they re-open. They’ll call me when they’re ready.”

Brayman didn’t know when she would return to the restaurant or when it would re-open.

“Sometimes it doesn’t take very long,” Brayman said. “It depends on the extent of what’s happened. And sometimes it’s lengthy. I think depending on everything that they needed to do for their punch list for the bullding inspector, that’s what is actually going to take the most length of time. They have a lot to do, but it takes more time to do the stuff that (the building inspector) is requiring.”

Phil Sherman, a building inspector with the city of Franklin working on the scene Tuesday afternoon, said he doubted the restaurant would be open by the end of the day Tuesday, citing cleanup issues.

Several Wendy’s employees declined to comment on Tuesday’s fire.