Olive Garden patrons evacuated when fire breaks out

ST. GEORGE — Dinner was interrupted late Friday evening when a fire broke out at Olive Garden Restaurant, triggering a heavy response from the St. George Fire Department and a quick evacuation by restaurant staff. No injuries were reported.

Just after 10 p.m. firefighters and emergency personnel were dispatched to a fire reported at Olive Garden Restaurant, located at 1340 E. 170 South St. George. Upon arrival firefighters observed heavy smoke coming from the rear of the building, St. George Fire Department Battalion Chief Darren Imlay said.

The heavy smoke activated the fire alarm initially, Imlay said, which also activated the emergency sprinkler system within a few minutes. The sprinkler system partially extinguished the fire.

“That system did what it was designed to do,” Imlay said.

Firefighters then entered and fully extinguished the area that was still actively burning, he said, and began ventilating the building to remove the smoke.

Meanwhile, the alarm sounded throughout the restaurant which initiated an evacuation, Imlay said.

“The restaurant staff did a great job of evacuating the customers safely, which resulted in no reported injuries during the incident,” Imlay said.

Many customers remained in the parking lot while firefighters extinguished the fire and some folks simply finished their meal or dessert outside as they watched the activity, Bryce Berry said. Berry was dining with friends when the alarm sounded. After being evacuated, the group gathered outside to watch the activity.

“Everybody was calm and just eating in the parking lot,” Berry said, “I’ve never been in a restaurant that caught fire before.”

Rhode Island resident Patrick Flanigan was dining with family and had just started ordering when the alarm sounded. At first they thought it was a false alarm, he said, but quickly realized it wasn’t a drill once they observed the staff going from table to table advising customers of the fire and the need to evacuate.

“It didn’t seem urgent at the time,” Flanigan said, “because they got us out so quickly.”

It wasn’t until Flanigan and his family were out in the parking lot and saw all the smoke that they realized it was an actual fire, he said.

Flanigan and his family stopped at Olive Garden during a road trip to help his sister move, he said, adding they were on their way to Fort Collins, Colorado.

“Yes, we just pulled off the freeway to eat dinner here, before continuing on with the road trip,” Luva Flanigan, Patrick’s mother, said.

The fire damage was contained to a small service area, but there was also damage to the building from smoke and water, Imlay said.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this time. A full investigation will begin after the building has been completely cleared of smoke, Imlay added.

The Olive Garden management staff were unable to comment.

St. George Fire Department sent six fire engines and one ladder truck to the scene. Gold Cross Ambulance responded and remained at the restaurant in the event there were any injuries.

This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.




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