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Church's Chicken closes Sunday following fire

By By Adam Prestridge
A grease fire forced Church's Chicken employees and customers out into the rain Sunday evening to escape heavy smoke.
According to Atmore Fire &Rescue Department chief Gerry McGhee grease from a grease vat used for cooking chicken splattered out sparking a fire around 7:30 p.m. He said the overflow of grease went into some electrical wires causing the building's fire alarms to sound and the automatic fire extinguisher located over the vat to release powder to snuff the fire.
McGhee said he believes if not for the automatic fire extinguisher, the fire "could have been worse."
"They are real important," McGhee said. "All businesses that cook using grease are required to have these types of automatic extinguisher over the cookers. In the event of a fire, it sprays a special powder that puts out the fire until we get there."
Fortunately the fire was minor, but McGhee said the fire department doesn't take any call lightly.
"Anytime we've got a business like that all my men and trucks respond no matter what it is," he said. "They can say it is a small fire, but we all still go to check it out and make sure everything is safe. We like to make the call that it's safe before we give the business owner or manager the OK to start bringing employees and customers back in."
In this case, Church's Chicken management made the call to close down the fast food establishment for the rest of the evening to clean up at the advice of the fire department. The restaurant reopened the following morning.
The Atmore Fire &Rescue Department sent two pumper trucks to the scene and a rescue truck. Kelley's Ambulance Service was also called to the fire to ensure no one needed medical attention. The Atmore Police Department also responded.