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Fire marshal: Olive Garden fire an accident

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Updated: 1/27 6:40 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The state fire marshal says the preliminary investigation shows the fire at the Olive Garden appears to be accidental.

Between 60-75 firefighters responded to the restaurant on Atlantic Boulevard, across from Regency Mall early Monday morning. JFRD reports it received a call around 2:40 a.m.

Fire crews say the restaurant is a total loss.

Tom Francis, the public information officer for Jacksonville Fire Rescue, said crews will be working to cleanup some sanitation issues with the pipes.

JFRD Fire Chief Marty Senterfitt said his firefighters had to take an outside approach because of dangerous conditions. He said they, "spent about 25 minutes inside the building trying to put it out but unfortunately the roof started collapsing on top of the crews so we had to pull everyone out for their safety."

Two ladder trucks shot water through the roof to tackle flames burning from the top of the building. Both east and westbound lanes of Atlantic Boulevard were closed for about three hours. They are now reopen.

Senterfitt said they will not be able to figure out the cause of the fire until the building cools off and investigators can go inside.

This is the second overnight fire at a Jacksonville restaurant in five days. Last Thursday, crews were called out to Biscotti's in Avondale. They were able to contain that fire to only the back of the restaurant. The state fire marshal said an oven plug contributed to the fire that caused an estimated $100,000 in damage. The catering side of that business is expected to reopen Monday.
Statement from Olive Garden spokesperson, Hunter Robinson:

“We are extremely thankful no one was inside the restaurant at the time of the fire and we appreciate the efforts of all the first responders involved and are grateful they are all safe. Right now, the well-being of our team members is our number one priority. With help from other Olive Garden locations as well as other Darden restaurants in Jacksonville, we will offer job placement support to all of the employees who were affected.”

“At this time, we don’t have information regarding if or when this restaurant will reopen. If we do reopen, the current team members will certainly be welcomed back.”

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