TRIAD — Investigators are examining whether fires at a pair of Hardee’s restaurants in High Point and Randleman that started within about four hours of each other are related.

A fire at the Hardee’s in northwest High Point early Saturday caused minimal damage, but a blaze later Saturday virtually destroyed the Hardee’s in Randleman.

The High Point Hardee’s fire started about 5:15 a.m., while the Randleman fire started shortly after 9:45 a.m. They involved malfunctions with the water heaters in the two buildings, fire investigators told The High Point Enterprise.

High Point Fire Department Assistant Chief Mike Levins said investigators are studying whether there’s a problem with types of equipment or with work on the equipment at the two restaurants.

“Is it a coincidence this happened at two Hardee’s? We need to determine either way,” Levins said.

The Randleman fire left the building gutted and a total loss, with damages estimated at $800,000 to $1.5 million, Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal Michael Smith said. The building was evacuated and no one was hurt, he said.

The Randleman Fire Department has consulted with the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office about the fire there, he said. Representatives with the State Fire Marshal’s Office and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms also have been involved.

“We are not ruling out anything at this time,” Smith said. | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul