MR. G’s Gutted; kitchen fire apparently to blame…again

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 13, 2003

At least Erma Gilbert helped her husband salvage something.

As the roof of Mr. G’s Pizza crumbled into ash early Friday morning, Gilbert peacefully walked away from the torrid flames with a cash box. The rest of the popular Demopolis eatery on Highway 43 all but crumbled when an apparent kitchen fire ripped through the attic and devoured the business Gerald Gilbert owns.

As Erma Gilbert locked the cash away, Doyle Wills &045;&045; who manages the store &045;&045; grumbled through his cellular phone.

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In the late 1990s, a kitchen fire caused by a piece of meat left in the smoker nearly destroyed the Demopolis business. This time, rebuilding the restaurant will take much longer.

Around 12:30 a.m. Friday, Samethia Hawkins stood behind the cash register of Elk Food Mart waiting for her next customer when she saw the blaze.

Blazing may be too small of a word. As smoke billowed through the muggy midnight skies, 10 Demopolis firefighters poured every drop of water on the gushing flames.

Morgan estimated that it took the Demopolis Fire Department 15 minutes to put out the blaze.

Demopolis Police Chief Charles Avery watched from his headquarter parking lot as more than 50 residents from around town gathered down the sides of Highway 43 to watch the ferocious flames.

There was no one in the building when the fire started, and Avery said he knew of no injuries due to the fire.

Morgan also said no firefighters were injured while battling the blaze.

Whether it was midnight or midday, the fire was still a tough one to extinguish. Alabama Power turned off all electricity around Mr. G’s, and firefighters were forced to tear down some of the walls in order to reach the heart of the flames.

When the searing building finally cooled, Morgan said he and a crew from the fire department would go into the building and investigate the cause of the flame.

As with all cases, Morgan and Avery both said some sort of investigation will take place. While fighting the fire, however, both also said they don’t believe any sort of arson took place.