Back-to-back fires damage a business and an apartment

A fire on Sept. 12 destroyed the Fireplace Tavern (formerly Annie’s Food and Spirits) and heavily damaged the adjacent Aztex gas station. Both businesses are located at 21 Steeple Drive in Sylva along U.S. Hwy. 74 East.

The fire was reported at 3:48 a.m. after nearby residents heard “an explosion” according to police reports. Firefighters were dispatched soon after and had the fire under control in about 45 minutes, according to Fire Marshal Alan Farmer.

In addition to the tavern and gas station being damaged, windows at Scotts Creek Baptist Church, downhill from the businesses, were knocked out as a result of “the explosion”. The church also suffered damage to some shingles that was caused by debris that landed on the roof.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. Anyone with information regarding the fire is asked to contact the Sylva Police Department at 828-586-2916.

Six days prior to the Sylva fire, a fire occurred locally in Cullowhee at Catamount Peak Apartments.

No students were injured in the fire that began in a clothes dryer on Sept. 6.  

The fire occurred in an apartment on the fourth floor of the upper building of the complex. Two WCU students lived in the apartment, but only one was home at the time of the incident.           

Cullowhee Fire Chief Tim Green said that the Cullowhee Volunteer Fire Department responded to a call at approximately 10:30 p.m. The fire was quickly extinguished, and the apartment sustained minimal smoke and water damage.

 Green said that the fire was contained to the dryer.

WCU junior and Catamount Peak resident Adam Corey says that he is no more apprehensive about fire danger than he was before.

“I keep my lint trap cleaned, so I don’t think I’m in much danger,” said Corey.

Though Green feels the situation was handled well by all parties involved, he stressed the importance of keeping dryer lint traps and exhaust ducts clear of lint and other objects, adding that accumulation of dryer lint is the number one cause of dryer-related fires.

Farmer examined the scene with Green, and though no cause has been determined yet, Green believes that lint buildup or a foreign object in the dryer sparked the fire.

Catamount Peak management declined to comment on the incident.


(Western Carolinian editor-in-chief Justin Caudell contributed to this report.)