Fire investigators believe a Tuesday morning fire that destroyed the beloved Antlers Cafe in Young, was likely electrically sparked.
Detective George Ratliff with the Gila County Sheriff’s Office said Frank, the bomb-sniffing dog from the Globe Fire Department, could sniff out no evidence of accelerants on the property.
“It is still under investigation, but it is looking like electrical, but that has not been confirmed,” Ratliff said.
A maintenance worker at the nearby Young School first saw smoke billowing from the restaurant around 8 a.m., Jan. 12.
“He didn’t think it was unusual because there is a burn pit in the back,” Ratliff said.
However, the maintenance worker decided to walk over to the restaurant to check the area out since the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays. When he got within eyesight of the restaurant, he saw smoke pouring out the windows.
A citizen driving through the area also stopped when they saw the smoke and turned the gas off.
The maintenance worker shut the buildings circuit breakers down.
Volunteers with the Young Pleasant Valley Fire Department did what they could to contain the blaze, but the fire quickly ate up the restaurant located off Highway 288.
“You couldn’t see six inches in front of your face” the smoke was so thick, Ratliff said.
Ratliff estimates the restaurant was built in the 1940s because it was constructed primarily out of rough-cut lumber.
Michael Hendrick, who owned the restaurant for the last nine years, said it was a favorite for locals because it was one of the only bars in the area.
“Everyone went there to eat or drink or listen to the jukebox,” Ratliff said.
No injuries were reported.