Olathe fire destroys Fronteras restaurant, Sprint store in strip mall

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OLATHE, Kan. -- A popular Mexican restaurant was destroyed after fire swept through an Olathe strip mall Monday night.

Flames destroyed five businesses including Fronteras Mexican Restaurant, a Sprint store, KFC and a salon. The businesses were all in the same strip mall near 135th and Black Bob.

Business owners said there's not much to save from the blaze.

Fire crews said that cooks at Fronteras Mexican Restaurant first noticed signs of the fire when they saw smoke in the kitchen.

"The guys in the kitchen is where they saw the smoke," said Salvador De La Torre, owner of the restaurant. "They told the manager there's smoke coming in here. So they called me and I said, 'Go out! And call 911.'"

The restaurant manager got everyone out of the business safely. When fire crews arrived they checked the attic above the restaurant and found only smoke. Firefighters on other side of the strip center went into the attic above a hair salon and found flames moving rapidly.

Fire crews said they believe the fire started in the attic of the hair salon at about 8:30 p.m. and spread to the other businesses.

Five fire departments, including Olathe, Lenexa and Overland Park,  were on scene working to put out the blaze.

The owner of Fronteras says he's been operating in Olathe for nearly six years and watched his livelihood go up in smoke.

"When I see the flames, well, I feel bad," De La Torre said. "It made me cry. It's my life yes, it's why I live here to do. That's my place."

De La Torre has another restaurant in Lenexa. Although the business is insured, right now he says he's not sure if he'll set up shop in Olathe again.

Investigators say it may take quite some time to determine the cause of this fire, because there is so much damage they need to sort through.

Total damage estimates have not been given yet.