ESCONDIDO, Calif. -
It took firefighters about 3 1/2 hours Thursday to subdue an early-morning blaze that gutted a North County fast-foot restaurant.
Flames began spreading through the attic of the McDonald's in the 1100 block of East Valley Parkway in Escondido for unknown reasons about midnight, at a time when only the drive-through lane of the business was open, fire department Battalion Chief Ken Slaven said.
As crews worked to douse the blaze, they realized that the building was becoming structurally unsound and pulled out for safety reasons. Part of the roof eventually collapsed, Slaven said.
"That changes the way you can fight (the fire) then," he said.
An employee who fled the burning restaurant complained of mild respiratory irritation from breathing smoke. Medics treated her at the scene, Slaven said.
Though the blaze was contained to the attic and roof of the building, it was considered a total loss, the battalion chief said.
Investigators determined that the fire was accidental in nature, though the exact cause remained under investigation at midday.
The business stood a block from a Spires restaurant that was destroyed by flames last week. Officials said there was nothing suspicious about that fire, either, and called the proximity and timing of the two blazes an apparent coincidence.