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“It was chaos.” How a Myrtle Beach car fire damaged vehicles and closed a restaurant

Car blaze caught on tape at Mellow Mushroom parking lot

A car fire in the parking lot of Mellow Mushroom on Wednesday afternoon damaged three vehicles and sent restaurant customers scurrying through a kitchen exit..
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A car fire in the parking lot of Mellow Mushroom on Wednesday afternoon damaged three vehicles and sent restaurant customers scurrying through a kitchen exit..

“It was chaos in the restaurant.”

That is how Ronald Ronda, the manager of Mellow Mushroom on 21st Ave. North in Myrtle Beach, described the scene after the driver of a BMW pulled into the restaurant’s parking lot with his car on fire Wednesday afternoon.

The fire at about 4 p.m. temporarily shut down 21st Ave. North from Seaboard Street to Greens Boulevard, sent customers scurrying out a back entrance and temporarily closed the restaurant as well.

Ronda said the driver pulled into the parking lot and parked between an SUV and pickup truck, then frantically ran into the restaurant yelling for a fire extinguisher. Ronda said he grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran toward the car but was turned back by fire-induced popping sounds, then called 911.

“I said, ‘I’m not going to die today,’ ” Ronda said. “There was no risk of human lives, it was only cars.”

The fire set off the restaurant’s fire alarm, which caused about 50 customers to scurry for an exit and fire-retardant chemicals to spray from the ceiling in the kitchen. Employees led patrons to a back exit through the kitchen.

“When the fire alarm went off everybody thought the fire was getting into the restaurant,” Ronda said. “It was chaos in the restaurant. Everybody was running out of the back of the kitchen. Some customers were crying.”

The fire closed the restaurant for a couple hours, and Ronda said the cost to reset the kitchen fire system was $1,500.

Ronda said fire crews responded within minutes and got the fire under control, but not before it spread to the vehicles on either side of the BMW. Ronda said one car belonged to a local resident, and the other was a rental car being used by the parent of a player on a visiting youth baseball team that was celebrating winning a tournament at nearby Ripken Experience.

One party of six remained in the restaurant to finish their meal during and after the fire, explaining, “We love your pizza. It’s amazing,“ Ronda said.

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