By Tammy Daniels
ADAMS, Mass. — A quick response prevented a roof fire at McDonald's from spreading.
A couple dozen volunteer firefighters from Adams and Cheshire responded to the report of a structure fire at the burger franchise at about 4:35 p.m. on a bitterly cold Tuesday.
"As I pulled up around the corner, I could see flames showing from the roof area ... underneath the McDonald's sign," said Fire Chief Paul Goyette.
While the cause is still uncertain, Goyette said, "we're leaning on the side of electrical."
Someone driving by reportedly called the McDonald's and told an employee that the building was on fire. The manager called 911 and accessed the roof with a fire extinguisher to put out the blaze. The manager was also able to isolate and shut off the electricity to the interior-lighted sign located across the roof of the building.
Firefighters were able to maneuver the ladder truck into position and went up on the roof to get the blaze, which appears to have been located under the "d's" on the sign and under one of the metal light covers that go up and over the parapet that angles up sharply from the roof line.
"The shingles were burned all the way down [under the cover]," Goyette said. "The heat source was the lighting unit but it was already burning on the roof structure."
Firefighters opened a small section of the roof with a chainsaw to ensure there was no extension of the fire underneath. The fire chief said that was a serious concern because the hollow parapet structure above the roof line would have allowed the fire to spread.
"We wanted to make sure there was no fire in the void," he said, adding that "once there's a fire, it just takes off so fast. It gets into that parapet void and it just takes off."
Goyette said he's seen reports of similarly styled restaurant structures that have been total losses after a fire has gotten into the hollow areas.
"This was an excellent save," he said. "The operation went very well."
The scene was cleared in about an hour. Cheshire Fire was called in for rapid response; local police took care of traffic, although no streets were closed, and Adams Ambulance was on standby at the scene.
The restaurant had been immediately evacuated and employees were sent home. The restaurant was closed for the evening but Goyette thought it possible it could open in the morning. The Board of Health inspector had already been on the scene and the building inspector had been alerted.
The company had an electrician coming to deal with the sign.