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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Fire, remodel keeps Taco Bell closed

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  • Jessica Kemp is lucky. The 22-year-old Newton resident wasn't working Saturday — and as Taco Bell stays closed, she has a second job.
    But she was still a little shaken as she watched Newton Fire/EMS workers climbing on the roof of Taco Bell Saturday afternoon to put out a fire where she works.
    "When I got the call, I was freaking out," Kemp said. "I have a second job, but I don't know when we will reopen."
    The building is under renovation. Following Saturday's fire, restaurant owners said the eatery will remain closed until March.
    "Due to the fire and going through the remodel, we will keep it closed until the remodel is finished," said Jeff Graves, Senior Director of Operations for Taco Bell at Fugate Enterprises of Wichita. "It is supposed to open March 4 as a new Taco Bell."
    At shortly after 3:30 p.m. Saturday Newton Fire/EMS responded to a call of a smoke smell at Taco Bell, 1403 N. Main St.
    "We got a second call enroute," said Dick Gehring, battalion chief for Newton Fire/EMS. "They were reporting flames."
    When crews arrived on scene they saw fire coming off the roof near the back of the building, and immediately began to suppress the flames. Within minutes, Newton Fire/EMS had the fire out.
    "There was a good amount of flames [coming off the rear of the building roof]," Gehring said. "They were able to get it knocked down in just a couple of minutes."
    The restaurant is currently under construction. A renovation project has closed all but the drive through window.
    Cause of the fire was labeled as electrical by Newton Fire Marshall Randall McBee.
    "It was an accidental fire," McBee said.
    He said the department estimated damages at $28,000.
     
     
     

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