Investigators have found no evidence of arson related to the fire that claimed the Spouter Inn Restaurant & Bakery, Tidal Treasures Gift Shop, Sweet Lily Ru and several apartments just before Christmas according to the county fire marshal’s office.
All three businesses and the apartments were housed in one building at 218 Front Street, Beaufort.
“There is no evidence of foul play regarding the fire at this time,” Carteret County Fire Marshal Eddie Lewis stated in a Friday news release.
Lewis said his office identified the origin of the fire, but is not releasing that information or additional details until an insurance investigation has been completed.
However, new information may still come to light.
“Based upon the fact that the roof of the building has collapsed, it will have to be removed,” Lewis stated in the release. “Once done, more information may be learned about the fire.”
The fire broke out around 5 am Sunday, Dec. 22, and was discovered by a resident of the building who raised the alarm. All residents were able to evacuate safely. No employees were at any of the businesses at the time.
A dozen emergency agencies responded to the fire under the direction of the Beaufort Fire Department and fought the blaze for hours. Beaufort Fire continued to control the burn in the days following as hot spots continued to flare up.
The American Red Cross and Salvation Army assisted displaced residents and provided food and drink to emergency personnel.
The Spouter Inn is owned by Robin and Matt Held and has been in Robin’s family since 1982. It was the largest business in the building and had operated there since 1977, when its founder, Sinbad, opened its doors.
Spouter had to close for several weeks due to damage from Hurricane Florence in September of last year. Matt Held said the business reopened after that disaster, and he hopes to rebuild and reopen again.
A total of 25 people worked at the restaurant.
Local youth pastor Julia Royall set up a Facebook fundraiser for the staff of Spouter Inn. So far more than $17,000 has been donated. Donations can be made through Facebook.
The Helds released a statement Christmas Day expressing their relief that no one was injured in the fire and appreciation for the community’s support:
“We Thank God that all eight tenants evacuated safely at 5:00 am. Our hearts break for all of us, so many lives were devastatingly affected.
“We are all thankful for the outpouring of love we have received, it is unfathomable We could be loved and supported by so many.
“We all have so much to do, to figure out, move ahead. It will take some time. We will keep you all informed along the way of recovery and restoration.”