Fire that destroyed restaurant still under investigation

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2002

When two fires erupted last fall in quick succession at Pizza Pete's restaurant in Soldotna, the second gutting the building and destroying the structure's interior, most people wondered, "What caused the second fire?"

Today, three months after the fire, there are few more answers.

Gary Hale, fire marshal for Central Emergency Services, said that the first fire, which was reported at approximately 1:30 a.m. on the morning of Oct. 10, was a minor fire.

"The point of origin was next to a combination washer-dryer. Damage, which was limited to $5,000, was kept to the south portion of the basement," Hale said.

The second fire, which was reported at 6:50 a.m. that same morning, is the fire that is still under investigation. Hale said he could say nothing at this point because officials are still questioning people.

"We are looking into a better investigation at this time," Hale said.

Gerald Anderson of Unified Investigations in Everett, Washington, also refused to comment on the fire's cause, saying that he could not make any public statement because the follow-up investigation is still continuing.

The second fire was evidently not the result of a rekindle, and to date, its cause is still unknown, Hale said.

The damage from the second fire was far more extensive. One floor of the building collapsed, forcing firefighters to evacuate the building and fight the fire from the exterior. They spent almost two hours getting the second fire under control, and when it was done, the blaze had burned out the floor and destroyed the structure's interior.

When asked about the reports of someone having been in the building at the time of the fire, Hale said that a relative of the owners was sleeping there, in another section of the basement.

"He was working for the owners and was unaware of the first fire until after it had been put out," Hale said.

Minas and Efosyni Charalam-bous, the registered owners of Pizza Pete's, lost between $600,000 and $800,000, according to estimates from Northern Adjusters, the Soldotna property appraisers for the restaurant.

The owners could not be reached for comment.

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