ELKHORN—The fire that ripped through Abell’s Restaurant and Lounge on Friday morning caused between $500,000 and $1 million damage, Elkhorn Fire Department Chief Rod Smith said.
The cause of the fire at N 6427 Highway 12 appears to be accidental, Smith said. The findings are preliminary because the investigation by the fire department and insurance company is not complete.
The fire began at about 4:50 a.m. in the restaurant’s kitchen and probably was fed by grease built up through the years in the ceiling and ventilation spaces, Smith said earlier.
Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents looked over the damage Friday.Smith said having federal agents at the scene is not unusual after a commercial fire with a large loss.
“It doesn’t mean just because they’re here it’s a criminal investigation,” Smith said. “It’s just a big dollar loss, and they have more ability and more resources to tap into for that type of investigation and loss.”
The business is owned by Ryan Ahearn and Mike Kapitan. Smith said the owners are waiting for a final damage total before deciding whether to rebuild.
“They haven’t made any decisions at this time as they don’t know what the effects and loss … They’re looking at their options,” Smith said.
At the scene of the fire Friday, several people said Abell’s was the local gathering place.The Red Cross is helping two families who lived in apartments attached to the business, Smith said.