WEST BEND -- A man is being praised for his work helping to evacuate the Burger King restaurant in West Bend after a grease fire Thursday, July 5.
It happened at the restaurant near 18th and Washington Street.
Officials said the grease fire was in the chimney area, and a fire extinguisher system put out most of the fire. Firefighters extinguished flames on the roof.
Lester Hahn said when he ran into the restaurant and told people there was a fire, no one believed him. He said once he promised them he'd buy their lunch if there wasn't an emergency, people began running out the door.
He said he spotted smoke on the roof of the restaurant.
"As I'm driving by, I'm seeing that there's people being served. I mean, they're still getting burgers!" said Hahn.
Putting his meal on hold, he dialed 911 and then jumped into action, running into the building in an effort to get people out.
"I told the people behind the counter, I said, 'you got to leave! The place is on fire!'" said Hahn.
He said no one seemed to take him seriously.
"Everybody gives you this blank look," said Hahn.
Hahn said he quickly thought of a way to prove to people just how serious he was.
"I said, 'I'll tell you what -- I'll buy your lunch if there's no fire,' and then they got up!" said Hahn.
An offer of free lunch got people out of the building.
"I was moving quick. They weren't moving quick," said Hahn.
Once the customers were out, Hahn, now standing in the drive-thru lane, said he saw employees still walking around inside.
"Get out of there! Hey wait is the gas off? Get out of there! Let me turn the gas off," said Hahn.
Authorities said there were no injuries in this case, and minor damage, but Hahn said he wanted to share an important message.
"If somebody is yelling 'fire,' pay attention to it. Maybe it's for a reason," said Hahn.