Official: Trespassers accidentally started Magnolia Grill fire
A Durham fire official said the fire that damaged the former Magnolia Grill on Ninth Street last week appears to have been started accidentally by trespassers.
Neighbors reported seeing people going in and out of the vacant building, and a door that should have been locked wasn’t, Deputy Chief Chris Iannuzzi of the Durham Fire Department said.
Iannuzzi said fire officials don’t suspect arson.
“The fire started in the area near a chair, and it looked like people had been staying there,” Iannuzzi said.
The exact cause of the fire hasn’t been determined, but “it was probably due to carelessness,” he said.
No suspects were caught at the scene when firefighters got a call Thursday to the former gourmet restaurant across from Fire Station 2 in West Durham. The business had been vacant since closing in 2012.
Fire heavily damaged the rear of the building, which had also been a health-food store and neighborhood grocery since it was built in 1947.
Ann Alexander, who owns the building with her husband, Lex Alexander, said Tuesday they plan to restore the building to its original condition.
“We’re talking to people about leasing it,” she said. “We hope to get another wonderful restaurant for Durham.”