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Hilltop fire still under investigation

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By Ben Carlson

The cause of a fire that destroyed a Hilltop Plaza business early last Thursday morning remained a mystery as of Monday afternoon.
Flames broke out inside of Doug’s Drive Thru just after midnight, destroying the business and sending fire investigators searching for clues.
An investigator with the state was on the scene Christmas Eve, but Lawrenceburg Fire Chief Robert Hume said no cause was determined.
“He took a lot of photos but didn’t come up with anything solid,” Hume said.
Investigators from the building owner’s insurance company were due in town early this week, Hume said, adding that the state inspector would likely return and go through the business’ remains at that time.
Hume said although the cause of the fire is being investigated, that doesn’t mean that the incident is necessarily under investigation.
“I wouldn’t say that,” Hume said. “Insurance companies always send investigators to determine what caused a fire. In this case, with their being alcohol, tobacco and lottery inside, they want to find out what happened.
“We’re just trying to figure out what caused the fire.”
One possible cause, Hume said, is that the business’ owner was using a kerosene heater inside the building.
“That’s always a prime suspect,” he said.
The owner of the business closed Wednesday at midnight, and the blaze was reported at 12:13 a.m. Thursday, Hume said, adding that he could see flames coming through the building’s roof when he got there around 12:20 a.m.
Last week’s fire marks the second in the past year at Hilltop Plaza. Two businesses were destroyed about a year ago when a fire broke out in a pet store and spread to a tanning salon.
The recent fire comes only a week after police were called to Hilltop Plaza to investigate the theft of four heat pump units behind the plaza.

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