1:49 PM PDT, July 14, 2021
Taco Bell employees in Tennessee set off fireworks inside the restaurant, then ran outside to watch and were accidentally locked out as the eatery went up in flames, authorities said.
A shift supervisor at the Nashville fast-food franchise was arrested this week and charged with aggravated arson, police said. Courtney Mayes, 25, was released on $5,000 bail and released Tuesday pending trial, according to online records. Her first appearance is scheduled for July 30.
The fire erupted on July 5, but changed course three days later when Taco Bell management officials told fire investigators that security cameras inside the establishment showed workers locking the doors to keep out customers and then lighting firecrackers, authorities said.
“According to the surveillance footage, the employees can be seen locking the doors to the dining room to keep customers from entering the business,” the Nashville Fire Department said in a statement released Monday. “The video then shows the employees running around the inside of the store with fireworks in their hands.”
The footage also showed some employees entering a men’s room, out of camera range, and then placing something in a trash can, the department said.
“Employees are seen using their cell phone cameras to record the trash can from the outside of the restaurant,” the fire department said. “Employees then realized they locked themselves out of the restaurant. The employees tried unsuccessfully to get back into the store. When the employees saw the trash can start to smoke, they called 911 for help,” the statement said.
An investigation is ongoing and fire officials said more arrests may come within days. The fire cause $30,000 in damages, authorities said.