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Firefighters escape as restaurant roof collapses

TWO firemen narrowly escaped injury early today while tackling a blaze which gutted the McDonald's drive-through restaurant in Sturry, near Canterbury.

Nearly 30 firemen from Canterbury, Sturry, Whitstable and Faversham were called to the scene shortly after 3am and battled to get the blaze under control. A car parked in the drive-through section was set alight and the fire spread via a canopy to the building. Flames quickly spread through the roof void destroying the centre of the building.

Leading firemen Keith Dabson said two firemen who had gone into the building with breathing apparatus came out seconds before the roof collapsed.

"We could see the flames spreading into the restaurant and as we pulled the men out the roof fell down," he said. "If we hadn't pulled them out at that moment they could have been cut off and injured. We are trained to look for flashovers. There is no point in losing a life trying to save a building."

Mr Dabson said that the restaurant was smoke-logged when firemen arrived and within 10 minutes the building was ablaze. "The fire went up the walls into the eaves and whistled through the roof void," he added.

Detectives are investigating the suspected arson attack. Forensic experts and fire investigators were examining the scene.

Robert Parker, MacDonalds' corporate affairs manager said that the company would have a better idea of how much rebuilding was necessary once its construction manager had assessed the damage.

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