A McDonald's restaurant in Encinitas was a total loss Friday after a natural gas explosion sparked a three-alarm fire that also damaged a nearby optometry business.
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The explosion in the 1200 block of Encinitas Boulevard was reported about 8:30 p.m. Thursday, said Encinitas Fire Marshal Robert Scott.
Four customers and at least four employees were inside at the time but all got out safely, thanks to employees in the kitchen who smelled gas and told everyone to leave, Scott told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
One person who was in the eatery at the time reported hearing a "really loud bang" and thought a car had driven into the building, the newspaper reported.
It took firefighters about an hour to put out the blaze that followed the explosion, Scott said.
The restaurant was destroyed and an optometry business next door called Miracle-Ear Optometry sustained smoke damage.
Scott estimated damages at between $500,000 and $700,000, but those figures were only preliminary.
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