Fire destroys McDonald's in Cassville

Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Fighting the flames Democrat Photo/Lisa Schlichtman Firefighters fought the flames from all angles on Sunday as they worked to contain a destructive blaze at the Cassville McDonald's. The building is expected to be a total loss, and the cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office.

A Sunday morning fire destroyed the McDonald's restaurant in Cassville just two weeks before the newly remodeled business was planning to host a grand re-opening celebration.

The blaze broke out at around 10:40 a.m. on Sunday, March 10. Firefighters with the Cassville Fire Protection District arrived within minutes of receiving the initial call.

Smoke could be seen rising from the restaurant, and as the first fire trucks arrived, a ball of flames erupted through the roof of the northeast corner of the building.

Ball of fire Democrat Photo/Lisa Schlichtman Just as Cassville firefighters arrived on the scene, a huge ball of flames broke through the roof at the back of the McDonald's restaurant.

"When I hit Main Street on my way to the (fire) station, I saw smoke rolling out of the building, and I immediately called for mutual aid," said Cassville Fire Chief Millard Andrews.

Butterfield and Exeter fire departments arrived shortly to assist, and the City of Monett Fire Department brought their hook and ladder truck to provide an aerial attack.

Alvin Tran, a witness on the scene, said he had just ordered breakfast and was sitting down to eat when smoke began filling the restaurant.

Up in smoke Democrat Photo/Lisa Schlichtman The famous Golden Arches of McDonald's were surrounded by smoke as area firefighters from Cassville, Exeter, Butterfield and Monett worked for close to five hours to put out a huge blaze that destroyed the Cassville fast food restaurant on Sunday morning.

"At first it was clear and then it got black," said Tran, who was evacuated from the building along with about 20 other customers and 10 to 15 McDonald's employees.

"Hats off to the employees who got everyone out of there," said Andrews. "When we got there, the place was vacated. They did a great job."

Fire crews remained on the scene until around 4 p.m.

"It was a long afternoon," said Andrews. "I'm thankful no one got hurt."

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office.

McDonald's in Cassville is owned by Bill and Walter Mathews, of Springdale, Ark., and employs 60 people.

"We are glad that no one was hurt," said Bill. "One of our employees even took time to go through the entire Playland to make sure that no one would be trapped inside. They did a good job of making sure all of our customers were safe."

On Monday, March 11, the owners were in Cassville to meet with their contractor, the McDonald's corporate construction supervisor and the state fire marshal to discuss the fire.

"We want to build back as soon as possible, and when we rebuild, we want to make sure it is safe," said Bill.

According to Bill, air conditioning units were replaced and a new roof installed on the building during the restaurant's recent renovations. All of the major mechanical systems were also upgraded.

Once the fire investigation is completed and an insurance settlement reached, the McDonald's Corporation will evaluate the site to determine where the new building will be constructed. Crews can then tear down the old building and construct a new restaurant in under 90 days, Bill said.

"We will be back, and we will be back better than ever before," said Bill.

All employees of the Cassville McDonald's will have the option of relocating to another one of the others' McDonald's in northwest Arkansas that are currently hiring. A pay adjustment will be granted to those who choose to travel to work at another restaurant.

"We want to make sure our employees are taken care of," said Bill.

This is not the first time an area McDonald's restaurant has been destroyed by fire. On Jan. 8, 2010, the Monett McDonald's was completely destroyed by a huge blaze. Monett Fire Chief Tom Jones said that fire began in the restaurant's electrical or heating systems.

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