Fire claims walls of Poppy's restaurant

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

CHAPEL HILL -- The state fire marshal's office was investigating a restaurant fire battled by three fire departments early Tuesday morning, the police chief said.

"There are a few inside walls standing, maybe some posts," Police Chief Jackie King said of Poppy's restaurant on Horton Highway that was closed when firefighters sprayed the building with water.

As for the outside walls, King said, "They're gone."

Emergency crews and utilities were "back there [Tuesday] morning," the chief said. "The heat burned the telephone line in front of it and the phone company is replacing it this morning.

"It was completely engulfed by the time the fire department got there," he said. "With its wood paneling and the hard wood, it just went up quick."

Poppy's is in a building purchased and expanded by the Wesson family to open what was Sambo's. It was just south of State Route 99's intersection with Horton Highway.

Because of the time of the fire and what he perceived to be the point of origin, the police chief said he suspects the cause was electrical.

"The electrical box is right next to the back door," King said. "The burglar alarm went off first."

It was 1:30 a.m. when the alarm came in, the chief said.

"They weren't cooking," he said.

The Berlin and Farmington-Rich Creek Fire departments responded to assist the Chapel Hill Fire Department, King said. There were no personal injuries.