Phoenix firefighters battled a three-alarm fire at Richardson's restaurant at 16th Street and Bethany Home Road Friday afternoon.
Firefighters called the restaurant at 1582 E. Bethany Home Road in north-central Phoenix "a total loss."
Fire crews said everyone was evacuated safely and there were no injuries.
The fast-moving blaze broke out at about 2 p.m. Witnesses said the fire started on the roof where workers had been installing roofing material around air conditioners.
Firefighters rotated crews in and out of the building due to the high heat from the fire combined with triple-digit temperatures, said Capt. Dorian Jackson of the Phoenix Fire Department.
Crews struggled to save adjacent businesses in the strip mall.
"This was probably preventable," said Richardson's owner Rich Brown as he stood watching his business go up in smoke. "It's my life's work you see going up in smoke. I'm not done. I'll be back."
Jackson said Brown told fire crews that they had been having problems with the air conditioning, which kept tripping the circuit breakers.
Firefighters said it's too early to tell what caused the blaze. Investigators said there were a number of contractors working on the building Friday morning, and talking with those workers will be part of the investigation.
No one was seriously hurt, but a firefighter and a news photographer suffered heat illness and were transported to the hospital as a precaution.
Brown said he opened Richardson's in 1988 with a $130,000 loan.
Former President George W. Bush ate at the restaurant during one of his visits to Phoenix.
The owners have a second restaurant in the same strip mall called Dick's Hideway.
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