Sequatchie fire believed to be arson
SEQUATCHIE CO. TN. (WRCB) -- A former restaurant and bar in Sequatchie County has had a list of names in the six or seven years since it was built but now its nothing but a pile of ash and debris.
The former Road House restaurant burned to the ground around 1 a.m. Monday and investigators believe it may have been intentionally set.
"My first thought was is there somebody in there," asks Shirley Alexander. Alexander lives behind the building, she says her sister woke her up when she saw the flames.
"She come into the room and she said the restaurant is on fire, and I went oh by God, oh my God," explains Alexander. She and her sister watched as the flames rose above the homes around her. "Way up there, I mean they were high," she says.
Investigators say the restaurant shut down awhile back but it was sold to a new owner about five months ago. Residents tell Channel 3 they had hoped a new restaurant would open soon but the blaze put those plans on hold.
Volunteer firefighters battled the fire for hours. Sheriff Ronnie Hitchcock believes it was no accident. "The nature of the fire appears to be arson," he says.
Hitchcock says the State Fire Marshall will look for clues like an accelerator and a burn pattern to help determine how and possibly who caused the fire.
"Its sad to see something like this, this nice of a building go down," Hitchcock says.
However, Alexander says its more upsetting to know someone could be behind it. "What is the sense of it? Whether its anger, or vengeance or anything it doesn't get anywhere. All you do is keep the fire burning so its in your heart," she says.
Its not clear what the total cost of damages is yet, we're told the current owner is from out of town.
Sheriff Hitchcock says they'll likely send some ashes to a lab for testing.