Two firefighters narrowly escaped injury when the ceiling in a burning McDonald's restaurant collapsed just behind them Monday morning.

Salt Lake County firefighters were called to the McDonald's restaurant at 1879 E. 4800 South after an automatic fire extinguisher doused the cooking area, signaling a problem to employees shortly after they arrived at 5 a.m.The fire apparently had been burning between the ceiling and the roof for some time before employees noticed it and evacuated to a convenience store next door. A clerk there already had called the Fire Department after seeing smoke coming through the roof.

A wooden structure forming the ceiling collapsed directly over the ordering counter area just as two firefighters who had been inside were leaving, fire Lt. Dennis Steadman said. They were protected by the doorway.

No dollar estimate had been set for the amount of the damage, which was described by Steadman as "extensive." Cause of the blaze was still under investigation.