LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - An official with the Lufkin Fire Department indicated that the fire that damaged Ray's Drive-In West Tuesday night was caused by a carelessly discarded cigarette.
"This is another example of how important it is to completely extinguish all smoking materials when finished with them," said Capt. Ozzie Jarman of the Lufkin Fire Department. "The fire is ruled unintentional as result of a carelessly discarded cigarette."
Jarman explained the fire started at the rear of Ray's Drive-In West in a lean-to shed attached to the main building. He said someone threw away a cigarette butt that fell in or on a stack of cardboard boxes.
"The cardboard ignited and spread up the fence to the roof. There was not any fire damage to the interior of the structure," Jarman said. "Only smoke damage to the inside. There was some minor fire damage to the roof of the building just above where the lean to was attached."
The blaze started at the restaurant around 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday. It took firefighters about 45 minutes to get the fire under control.
When crews arrived flames were coming from the roof of the building. The back storage area suffered heavy damage. No injuries were reported.
Lawana Ray, the owner of the restaurant, told KTRE, customers were inside the restaurant at the time the fire started, and some of those customers even ran to the back of the building to help put out the fire until firefighters arrived.
The exact number of customers and employees inside the building at the time is still unknown.
Ray said she plans to re-build and re-open the restaurant on the Lufkin loop.
"Things can be rebuilt," Ray said in a previous story. "Structures can be fixed."