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Fire Destroys Businesses At WCU

Fire destroyed three restaurants at Western Carolina University Thursday morning.

No one was hurt.

Students used their smart phones to spread the news.

"It's kind of interesting to watch.  I just hope everything is okay in there," said Freshman Anna Harrill.

The Cullowhee Fire Chief says the fire started just before 9 a.m. Thursday, likely in the Subway restaurant on Centennial Drive It then spread to Rolling Stone Burrito attached to it and then to the Mad Batter Cafe, destroying all three.

But the fire was stopped before damaging Bob's Mini Mart.

Chief Tim Green with the Cullowhee Volunteer Fire Department says the apartments above the businesses were vacant.

He says the biggest challenge for firefighters was battling an old structure.

"It got in the crawl spaces and everywhere.  They got into the floors and it had gone past it. But they did do a good job of cutting it off to going down the street into other businesses," said Green.

"The buildings are insured by the State of North Carolina through our insurance with them. And each of the businesses should have hopefully do have business insurance," adds WCU Vice Chancellor for Administration and Finance Robert Edwards.

Now comes the task of identifying exactly where the fire started and how.

"The whole back side of the roof is collapsed in. So all that is going to have to be taken out before we can get in there and dig and find the origin of the fire," says Green.

Green says he's unaware of any asbestos issues from the old structure.

By Rex Hodge

Follow Rex on Twitter @RexHodgeWLOS


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