Steakhouse evacuated after fire breaks out

Sunday, December 01, 2002
Staff report

DAYTONA, FL -- When a steakhouse filled with smoke during a fire Saturday, kitchen worker Hector Cruz rushed to help a young girl in a wheelchair out of the dining room. "I'm just glad everybody is safe," said Cruz, 21, who was working at Ryan's Family Steak House on South Ridgewood Avenue when fire broke out at the grill area in the kitchen at 4:30 p.m. Seeing 9-year-old Clarissa Steele in a wheelchair as the smoke poured into the dining room, Cruz came to the rescue. "He grabbed her and brought her right out," said the girl's mother, Rebecca Steele, 29. More than 50 people were in the restaurant when they were chased out by smoke. Among them, Jeff Thompson, 35, ran out with his steak on a plate. He said the fire started at the grill. "There was a big fireball," said Thompson. Firefighters arrived to find flames shooting from the roof. No injuries were reported, but the building was left with water damage.