Fire tears through Glendale Salsitas restaurant

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A popular Mexican food restaurant in Glendale caught fire Thursday morning.

Crews were called out to Salsitas near 43rd and Olive avenues, which is right on the border of Phoenix and Glendale, shortly before 9 a.m.

There were three employees inside when the fire broke out, said Daniel Valenzuela of the Glendale Fire Department. Those employees smelled smoke, called 911 and then evacuated. Everybody got out safely.

"That's what counts the most," Valenzuela said. "These things happen, unfortunately.  It's never a joy to ever see anyone's business or home destroyed like this, but it is refreshing to see that people doing the right thing when it does happen. People are following some sort of an escape plan, and that's encouraging."

Thick white smoke pouring off the roof was visible for miles before firefighters arrived on the scene. Additional crews were called out after the fire was upgraded to a first-alarm assignment.

Aerial video showed firefighters on the roof, searching for hot spots and areas to cut vent holes.

"We take calculated risks," Valenzuela explained. "We never put our firefighters in a place of danger, knowing that they may not make it out."

While the smoke was greatly diminished within a few minutes, there was concern about continued fire activity inside the building. Flames were coming through the roof at one point.

Fire crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to nearby businesses.

It's not yet clear what sparked the fire, but Valenzuela said it might have been an electrical issue in the attic. Investigators are on the scene to try and determine if that is indeed the case.

While the building was badly damaged, no injuries were reported.

The restaurant will likely be closed for some time.