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Cleaning accident caused Wendy's fire near Wausau

Fire at Wendy's in Rib Mountain
Fire at Wendy's in Rib Mountain

RIB MOUNTAIN, WI (WTAQ) - A cleaning accident by employees started the fire that destroyed a Wendy's restaurant near Wausau two weeks ago. 

Rib Mountain deputy fire chief John Lauer tells WAOW-TV that four employees were cleaning a fryer for cooking chicken when they pulled it from a wall, and disconnected a natural gas line. 

Investigators say they're still not sure how the gas ignited, but it could have started from the pilot light of another appliance. 

The late-night blaze on October 10th caused $1.5 million of damage, destroying a restaurant built in the 1990's. 

Lauer said the workers heard hissing, and they immediately knew there was a gas problem. They ran outside and called their manager -- and one worker went back in to turn off a valve. 

When that happened, Lauer said the flames erupted. He said the employees were lucky they were not killed, especially the one who rushed back inside.

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