May 1, 1995 in Nation/World

Eating Out Turns Into Whopper Of An Experience Roof Fire Closes Valley Burger King; Diners, Employees Evacuated Safely

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Kay Walkup and her three daughters went to Burger King for the 99-cent Whoppers on Sunday, but instead they saw the restaurant’s roof get flamebroiled.

About eight customers and a dozen workers were cleared from the restaurant at 2120 N. Argonne about 4 p.m. Sunday.

No one was injured, and firefighters from the Valley Fire District brought the blaze under control in about 15 minutes. Until then, thick smoke poured from the roof.

“That freaked me out,” said Courtney Walkup, 8, who had just taken off her shoes to play in the Burger King playground. “You could see the flames. It was like black smoke, total black smoke.”

The restaurant probably will be closed for several days while the damage is repaired, said Dave Luebker, Valley fire battalion chief. The Spokane County Health District also will have to inspect the restaurant before it reopens, he said.

The blaze probably started as a grease fire, according to fire officials and restaurant workers. It then spread through the flue and onto the roof, burning a wall.

The restaurant’s smoke detector and sprinkler system went off, and workers checked the bathrooms and hustled all customers out.

“It just got too big, and I didn’t want to take any chances,” said the teary-eyed acting manager, who didn’t want her name divulged. “I got outside, and I looked back, and I had never seen anything like it.”

Nicole Warner, 11, and a friend had just walked over to Burger King to split a Whopper.

“It scared me,” she said. “I thought the whole place was going to go up.”

Eight Valley firefighters climbed a ladder onto the roof and put out the fire.

Meanwhile, workers and restaurant patrons huddled outside. Kay Walkup thanked the workers for their quick action.

“They did a great job,” Walkup said. “They kept everybody safe.”

Walkup held a McDonald’s cup in her hand. She had taken her daughters across the street for Happy Meals after the Burger King restaurant had caught fire.

But for Warner, it was Burger King or nothing. She held a crumpled dollar in her hand.

“I’ve still got my dollar,” Warner said. “I didn’t want to go anywhere else.”

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