“Officials say no one was hurt in the fire,” the news report read. But the words of one customer paint a very different picture:

"Right now it makes me just want to cry because I can smell it, I see it, it's really sad," said Mary Waelchli. "We love Wendy's, we love coming here, it's just hard to believe that something like that happened."

Delicious, char-grilled ribs weren’t the only things engulfed in flames in Rib Mountain, Wis. last Thursday. Popular cafeteria Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers (“Wendy’s” to locals) was also on fire. It burned for approximately two hours, from 10:30 p.m. to 12:20 a.m.

It was completely destroyed.

According to North Central Wisconsin's WAOW News, authorities investigating the incident believe the fire was the result of an accident, rather than arson. The four employees in the restaurant when flames broke out escaped unharmed.

But, as WAOW discovered in a story titled "Customers Devastated After Wendy's Destroyed by Fire," that doesn’t mean no one was scarred.

On Friday morning, Jim and Mary Waelchli, two hungry, beautiful lovers, lurched up out of bed with the sun, got dressed, brushed their teeth and generally comported themselves like regular ol’ normal humans—nothing suspicious or sinister about it. They discussed what they had experienced during dream-time. They gave thanks to God that it was Friday (TGIF). They decided, WAOW reports, that they would go to Wendy’s for lunch.

Customers say they're sad to see the devastation. Jim and Mary Waelchli were planning on Wendy's for lunch.

But when Jim and Mary arrived at Wendy’s (or, rather, a hollow, fire-blackened shell of a building located at the site that was formerly the location of Wendy’s), they were appalled. A tragedy of such scope not been seen for generations in the Rib Mountain region, which has enjoyed a period of relative tranquility since the “Bloody” Burger King was deposed nearly one hundred years ago.

Mary, relying on the eyesight that had served her so well to this point in her life, quickly identified the culprit behind the devastation.

"I see these windows are all broken, I said, my gosh Jim it looks like they had a fire!" said Mary Waelchli.

But even though Mary’s disaster-heightened senses all pointed toward the complete obliteration of a local icon (SIGHT of broken windows; SMELL of burned down Wendy’s; SOUND of people telling her Wendy’s had burned down; TASTE of zero Wendy’s products, due to unforeseen circumstances which had rendered them inaccessible), she and Jim still had trouble accepting the reality of the situation. Was it really possible that their beloved Wendy’s had become an un-Wendy’s? Was there a chance they were still in dream-time? How can something you love so much be so burned down?

"We couldn't believe it. We're so shocked. Because I love eating at Wendy's and it's so sad," said Mary Waelchli.

It is unknown where the Waelchli’s took their midday meal Friday, though WAOW confirms they opted "to head elsewhere for lunch" rather than scrabble around in the glass-strewn rubble, searching for square patties and round buns that had escaped the wrath of Chaos.

Perhaps they drove ten minutes to the Wendy’s in Schofield, where they regaled fellow diners, cashiers, and shift manager Tatiana with tales about a Wendy’s they used to go, located yonder, over that hill. Perhaps a frowning Jim asked Mary to try a spoonful of this steaming chili; “That tastes different, doesn’t it?” (“No, I think it’s the same.”) Perhaps they were too upset to eat, and just went home and laid in bed, side-by-side, waiting for the sky to get dark enough so that they could put on their pajamas.

Wendy, if you’re reading this, please send two (2) Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers and one (1) small chilli and one (1) small Original Chocolate Frosty™ to Jim and Mary Waelchli.

They can smell the memories. They can taste the good times. It's really sad.

[Image via flickr/aaronisnotcool]