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UPDATE: Olive Garden Releases Statement

A fire Tuesday destroyed the Olive Garden restaurant near Pecanland Mall.
Taken around 2 p.m. as crews battled the fire with ladder trucks. (Chris Thibodaux, KTVE/KARD)
Taken around 2 p.m. as crews battled the fire with ladder trucks. (Chris Thibodaux, KTVE/KARD)
Employees at Olive Garden were forced to evacuate due to a fire (Alanna Quillen)
Employees at Olive Garden were forced to evacuate due to a fire (Alanna Quillen)
Monroe fire crews on scene of a fire at the Olive Garden restaurant (Alanna Quillen)
Monroe fire crews on scene of a fire at the Olive Garden restaurant (Alanna Quillen)
Smoke causes traffic to slow down on I-20. (Alanna Quillen, KTVE/KARD)
Smoke causes traffic to slow down on I-20. (Alanna Quillen, KTVE/KARD)
 (Lizzie Shehane)
(Lizzie Shehane)
Fire at the Monroe Olive Garden (Alanna Quillen)
Fire at the Monroe Olive Garden (Alanna Quillen)
 (Kaitlin Sanson)
(Kaitlin Sanson)
Monroe fire crews on scene of a fire at the Olive Garden restaurant (Alanna Quillen)
Monroe fire crews on scene of a fire at the Olive Garden restaurant (Alanna Quillen)
UPDATE:
Olive Garden's General Manager Bryan Gibbs spoke at Wednesday morning's press conference, mentioning plans to help out-of-work employees and a plan to reopen:

“First and foremost, we are extremely thankful no one was injured in the fire and we are grateful for the efforts of all the first responders involved. Olive Garden remains committed to the Monroe community and we plan to rebuild this restaurant.  We’ll begin work as quickly as possible, with the goal of re-opening before the end of the year.”
 
“Right now, the well-being of our team members is our number one priority. With help from other Darden restaurants in Monroe, we are offering job placement support to all of the employees who were affected. Lastly, when we do re-open, our current Olive Garden team members will be welcomed back.”


UPDATE:
After about four hours of battling the fire inside this restaurant, fire fighters believe it is finally under control.
   
Just after opening this morning, Olive Garden workers and a few customers are forced from the building after seeing smoke.
"Guests came to the front door and said the back of the building was on fire," said Tiffany Austin, an Olive Garden employee.
Fire crews say those flames were in a nearby dumpster. Olive garden staff worked quickly to get coworkers and customers out safely.
"They even helped a guest out that was in a wheelchair," said Austin.
Firefighters arrived just after 11:30 a.m., hoping to tame the flames quickly.
"We had sparks going everywhere," said Austin.
  
The fire is under control a short time later - but then Fire Chief Terry Williams said flames took over once again.
"Everybody said the roof was on fire so we had to run out again," said employee Dottie Taylor.
Williams said the wind was a major factor in the fight.
"Without a doubt - I have no idea how fast this wind is blowing, but it's pretty windy out here," he said.
The southbound gusts did salvage the dining area of the building, but workers are still concerned about their livelihoods.
"I'm not too happy about it at all, because i'm a server and i work off of tips only," said Austin.
"Hopefully they'll get this all taken care of, get the building back up and running and get us back in there where we belong," said Taylor.
It's unclear at this point if the building can be repaired or if Olive Garden will have to rebuild.
Fire crews say the second fire could be electrical. Williams said they're going to have to do an investigation into the first and second fire to figure out what really happened and whether or not the two fires are related.

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UPDATE:

Fire crews are still battling the fire at the Olive Garden Restaurant. The fire that was under control had spread to a false attic area and re-ignited.

As of 2:30 p.m., the flames are no longer visibly shooting from the roof.

At one point, our crew on the scene said flames engulfed the entire roof and part of roof is now collapsed.
The Monroe Fire Department used two ladder trucks and re-positioned other trucks to fight the blaze.
Crews said the first fire they were called out around 11:30 a.m. on was a dumpster fire at the back of the building. That was extinguished. A second fire sparked a short time later, which crews say may be electrical related.
Fire officials said they are unsure if two fires are related.
No injuries have been reported. A firefighter rehab service is on the scene to assist the crews.

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Monroe -- No injuries are being reported at a fire at the Olive Garden Restaurant in Monroe.

The fire started just after the restaurant opened.

The manager of the restaurant, Emanuel Chukwuezi,  tells KTVE/KARD that one or two customers were in the store when they, along with the employees were forced to evacuate, after seeing smoke.

Monroe fire crews are on the scene and the fire is under control.

Chukwuezi says the fire started in the back electrical area of the building, and loud popping noises were heard.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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