Steelman said Friday that store owner A.W. Witcher told him he turned on the grease in a commercial deep frier to start cooking, became distracted with something, “and by the time he noticed the fire, it was out of control.”
The inside of the firm, located on Hwy. 300 at the intersection with FM 726, was “pretty much” a total loss, Steelman had said Wednesday.
Fire damage occurred mainly to the kitchen area and office, while the rest of the interior sustained smoke and water damage, he said.
Nobody was injured, Steelman said. As of Thursday afternoon, the only outward signs of a fire were black scorch marks on the metal facing at the top of the brick building.
The fire, reported at 9:29 a.m. in a 911 call, drew firefighters from Gilmer, Glenwood, East Mountain and Diana, said Steelman.
The blaze was considered under control within about 45 minutes after firefighters arrived, the fire marshal said.
The Mirror tried unsuccessfully to reach Witcher for comment Friday on whether he planned to reopen the firm.
The store was a meeting place for morning coffee for area residents.
Gilmer attorney David Griffith said that he had coffee there Wednesday morning, as he usually did, and received a call about 10 a.m. that the store had burned.