November 9, 2007 - Posted at 5:30 p.m. CDT
POCAHONTAS, AR -- An early morning fire Thursday has closed a Region 8 restaurant and police are now investigating the accident as arson.
Officials say someone broke into the Junction 166 Café on U.S. 62 West of Pocahontas and then set fire to the front entrance.
"I was actually really devastated because my wife works here too and all the older people from the churches on Sunday, this is where they come and eat and it's mostly full all the time," said café patron Dave Bagwell.
The Junction 166 Café sits closed and it will be sometime before it's full again after a fire damaged the building Thursday.
"It wasn't totally engulfed, there was a lot of heat and smoke damage to a good portion of the building but the front area interior suffered a lot of damage," said Randolph County Sheriff Gary Tribble.
A passerby noticed the fire and made the initial phone call to 911 just after 3:40 a.m., the Pocahontas Fire Department had the blaze out within three hours.
Arkansas State Police and Randolph County Sheriff officials are investigating evidence of a forced entry, which they believe may have been the reason for the fire.
"It's a good social business for a lot of our people to meet and they've got some good food," said Sheriff Tribble.
"They took a lot away from this town, but it's just a temporary thing. It will be back," said Bagwell.