Fire at Carlene's Place

An investigation is underway to determine cause of fire.
An investigation is underway to determine cause of fire.

Zavalla, TX (KTRE) - A landmark Zavalla restaurant is closed after fire broke out in the kitchen area before business hours Monday morning.

From the outside, police tape and a broken front window are the only visible signs of a problem.  Inside, investigators say the building is a total loss due to major smoke and fire damage.  A passerby noticed smoke coming from the building and called 9-1-1.

Volunteer firefighter William Wade, who is also the local constable, was first to arrive on the scene shortly before five o'clock and noticed heavy smoke billowing from what appeared to be the kitchen area of the restaurant.  No one was at work at the time of the fire.  No injuries were reported.  Police Chief Bobby Epperly Jr. says they hung police tape around the building to help preserve the scene and keep people out, pending an investigation by the Fire Marshall and insurance adjuster.

Firefighters from Zavalla, Huntington and Fuller Springs Volunteer Fire departments responded to the call.  Wade says the smoke was dense.  He says fire broke through the roof of the building, causing a section of the roof to cave in.  He says it appears to have been an accidental electrical fire, however, an official ruling will be made by the Fire Marshall.

Carlene White has operated a restaurant in Zavalla for 22 years, 17 years at this location.  She says she's numb and in shock and most of all worried about her 13 employees who are now without a job.  She says she has already contacted Workforce Solutions for help.  She says she has a little insurance, but not enough to cover the loss.  Still, she plans to rebuild.  "I started with nothing and I hope to build it back."

Carlene's Place is a local café, located on East Main Street, near Highway 147 in Zavalla.