Business fire in downtown Ringgold - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Business fire in downtown Ringgold

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CATOOSA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -

UPDATE: A kitchen fire, destroyed a popular Mexican restaurant in Ringgold Wednesday night, forcing other nearby businesses to temporarily close. 

Fire officials believe the blaze started in the kitchen of Los Maguey Mexican Restaurant around 10 p.m. Wednesday. The flames quickly grew out of control. 
 
"All I could see was the cooks running out of the back doors and there was a big cloud of smoke coming out of the kitchen," said employee Leslie Rodriguez 

Thick black smoke filled the family owned restaurant in minutes. Employees helped customers get out safely. Officials say the fire badly burned a cook's arm but it could have been worse, the ceiling collapsed and no one else was hurt. 

Leslie Rodriguez's husband works as a manager at the restaurant but was on scene helping put out the flames as a volunteer fire fighter. She told Channel 3 Eyewitness News their family is devastated but thankful everyone is okay. 

"I mean it's a great feeling I guess to be able to help at your own business," said Rodriguez, " It's also very heart sinking."

The exact cause of the fire is still unknown. The State Fire Marshall's office is investigating. 
 
"Pray for this family they need it," said Nancy Crowe, family friend. "A lot of families depend on this for their livelihood the community does too. We're hoping they'll be back soon. My thoughts and prayers go out to them."

Nearby businesses in the same shopping center had to close their doors Thursday morning. They too have heavy smoke and water damage, some are still without power. To make matters worse--- "Reyna" the cat escaped from her permanent home at Ringgold Animal Hospital during the chaos. Firefighters tried to catch her, but she got away. Her owners ask that you don't approach her and call the clinic if you see her because she's skittish around strangers. Two other cats who were living at the clinic are now recovering from smoke inhalation. Veterinarians there say they're very lucky, no other animals were staying overnight. 

Fire officials say the employee who suffered severe burns to his arm will be taken to the Atlanta Burn Center for treatment. The total damage to the restaurant is estimated to be $400-$500,000 dollars. Investigators tell Channel 3,  the restaurant is a total loss. Owners of the other businesses in the shopping center say they hope to be back up and running within a couple of days. 


PREVIOUS STORY: One person had minor injuries from a fire at a restaurant in Ringgold Wednesday night. 

The fire happened at Los Maguey Mexican restaurant off of Alabama Highway and 41. 

Catoosa County fire has to call for backup from the Tri-Community Volunteer Department.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. 

We'll continue to update this story as information becomes available. 

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