Wichita Restaurant Fire Ruled Arson

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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UPDATE: Friday, August 10, 2012

It's the toughest call Jarrett Barnes has had to make.

"It was not a good phone call," Barnes said.

The call was picked up by his boss all the way in Hawaii.

"He broke down and said, 'Why would somebody do this?' And I said, 'I don't know man,'" Barnes said.

Barnes explained to Pour Haus Restaurant and Tavern owner Vaughn Smith, that someone deliberately set a fire that has left the business and their livelihood in ruin.

"I didn't want to tell him that," Barnes said. "He's on vacation with his wife for their anniversary and I gave him the worst news he could possible get," Barnes said.

Fire investigators announced Friday they had determined the cause of the fire to be arson. They say the fire started in the second-floor office area.

The damage is widespread and is estimated at $70,000. Barnes says he expects the business to be closed for about four to eight weeks, but it could be longer depending on assessments.

The Pour Haus just opened March 14. The new business transformed the building, which in the past housed a strip club, into a community bar and family eatery. It's known for its beer-battered food and large portions.

"It's kind of upsetting because we have put a lot of time and effort into it and to have someone come in and just destroy it for nothing," Barnes said.

Fire investigators say thieves did steal what was in the cash register and the games inside.

"A few hundred dollars was stolen," investigators said.

But managers say they also stole their employees' main source of income.

"You just put 10 people or more out of jobs for a couple hundred bucks? That's irritating," Barnes said.

Now, Jarrett and his wife Ariela are left with the irritating and daunting task of making a list of all that's been lost.

"Everything is damaged, nothing is salvageable," Barnes said.

But what is salvageable is the spirit of the employees, who not necessarily all related, say they are a resilient family.

"We like being here and we are still here," Barnes said. "Everything is covered in soot and we are still here. We're just going to try to make it work again."

If you have any information about the fire, call fire investigators at (316) 337-9146.

UPDATE: Friday, August 10, 2012

Investigators have determined that a fire at a west Wichita restaurant was the result of arson.

The fire started at the Pour Haus Restaurant and Tavern, near Seneca and Maple, around 6:45 a.m. Thursday.

Capt. Stuart Bevis, Wichita Fire, said someone intentionally set a fire inside the building. Management reported that cash had also been taken from the business.

The fire caused about $70,000 in damage.

No arrests have been made.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Firefighters are looking for a cause that sparked a fire at a west Wichita business.

The fire broke out at the Pour Haus Restaurant and Tavern, near Seneca and Maple, around 6:45 a.m. Thursday. An employee arrived at the restaurant, found smoke, and called for help.

Crews arrived to find heavy smoke showing from a chimney. They did find a fire inside, but managed to contain the blaze quickly. Officials closed traffic on Seneca for a short time while firefighters worked to get the situation under control.

No one was hurt.

Capt. Stuart Bevis, Wichita Fire Department, said it appears the business will be closed for some time.

"There is significant damage both from the fire and the water damage," Bevis said. Firefighters were also forced to cut a hole in the roof to search for hidden fire in the second story.

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