According to the owners of the Purple Cow, the restaurant will be closed the next few days as they work to clean up the damage and figure out the best way to repair the drive-thru window.
The Kingsport Fire Department responded to the scene around 3:30 p.m. following a report of a vehicle fire. Soon after, firefighters were told the blaze was going to spread to the interior of the restaurant.
“Firefighters were able to get a quick knockdown on the fire,” said Senior Capt. Jessie Bishop with the KFD. “We’re unsure of the reason (for the fire). The driver said he didn’t know he had any mechanical issues until he drove in here.”
The driver had already left the scene by the time the Times News arrived at the Purple Cow.
Chrissie Hudgins, who was working at the restaurant at the time of the fire, said the SUV started overheating when it came through the drive-thru, then it started to smoke.
“Another employee went to go get some water to see if we could cool it down. By the time they did that, there were flames under the truck,” Hudgins said. “The driver and the guy at the window ran out to see if they could push the (SUV) out of the way.
“I grabbed the fire extinguisher and brought it out, but we had to get more fire extinguishers, and by that time it was just (too late).”
Fire damaged the drive-thru window, the menu on the side of the building and the awning. Interior damage was limited to smoke and water, employees said.
William Shead, one of the owners of the Purple Cow, said the restaurant would be closed several days at the very least.
“I have no idea (how long we’ll be closed). It looks like we could function if we could just get that window fixed,” Shead said. “It doesn’t look good but it doesn’t look dangerous.”
Brian and Brenda Benson, the other owners of the restaurant, were also at the Purple Cow soon after the fire, assessing the damage with Shead.
“I would say we’ll be open next week, but I’m not sure about Monday,” said Brian. “Worst case scenario, we could just board it up at night and pull the board down during the day.”