Carl’s Jr. in Santa Rosa catches fire while making burgers for first responders

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Carl’s Jr. on Industrial Drive in Santa Rosa survived the Oct. 9 Tubbs fire while other buildings around it were destroyed.

It was not so lucky Thursday.

While in the midst of preparing 165 Super Star with cheese double burgers for first responders in the Fountaingrove area, a kitchen fire damaged the fast-food restaurant.

“We made it through the big one only to get taken out by this,” said franchise co-owner Greg Funkhouser. “It’s going to be a while before we reopen.”

The kitchen crew was halfway though filling the large order when a grease fire ignited in the charbroiler and jumped into the exhaust system just after 11 a.m.

“The charbroilers are high temperature,” Funkhouser said. “There was so much meat going through them at the time it happened.”

Typical charbroilers can burn at more than 700 degrees.

Funkhouser characterized the inside of the building as being “completely torn up. They chainsawed big holes into the roof.”

The Santa Rosa Fire Department controlled the fire in 15 minutes. Damage was estimated at $75,000.

The six employees in the building escaped unharmed.

The Tubbs fire destroyed a Kmart, Arby’s and other businesses in the area around Carl’s Jr. at 3640 Industrial Drive between Highway 101 and Coffey Park. Carl’s Jr. was not damaged but remained closed until Oct. 19, Funkhouser said.

The order for the burgers was placed by a business in the Fountaingrove area, but the customer who arrived to pick it up saw there were six Santa Rosa firetrucks in the parking lot and left, he said.

“I ended up handing out free burgers to anyone around,” Funkhouser said.

You can reach Staff Writer Nick Rahaim at 707-521-5203.

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