Foul Play Suspected After McDonald's Burns Down in Eastern France

A McDonald's restaurant under construction in eastern France was destroyed by a fire early Thursday, said police. No one was injured.

Investigators suspected foul play behind the fire, which started around midnight and rapidly consumed the single-story building in Voreppe, a suburb of Grenoble.

Construction of the restaurant was nearly completed, and it was due to open next month. The fire blew out windows, collapsed the building's roof and shattered much of its interior.

The fire, which investigators believe started in the kitchen, came amid a heated court battle launched by residents opposed to the McDonald's presence.

Residents said they objected to the odors and increased traffic expected from the restaurant's drive-in service. On Wednesday, they won a temporary court order suspending construction, pending a decision by a higher court.

Other McDonald's restaurants have been similarly unwelcome in France.

Anti-globalization activist Jose Bove rose to fame in 1999 when he and nine others used farm equipment to dismantle a McDonald's branch under construction in Millau, in the foothills of the Massif Central mountains.

Bove, who served a 61-day jail term for the action, opposes what he calls "foul food" — including genetically modified crops and McDonald's-style fast food that has become mainstream in France.