By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Investigators for both the state fire marshal’s office and the Oxford Fire Department suspect arson but cannot pinpoint a cause for the fire that destroyed one of the city’s first bars.
The downtown Oxford building that for decades housed a cotton gin and later hosted its namesake restaurant burned Saturday night, leaving little but twisted metal.
“As far as determining what started the fire, I don’t have a definite cause,” said Oxford Fire Department Investigator Randy Jones. “I’m going to rule it undetermined but suspicious. There were no utilities to the building, so something had to start it.”
The fire started near the west side of the building, near what once was the kitchen. The Gin was just downhill from Frank and Marlee’s, another bar with whose building The Gin had shared a deck until a week ago.
The deck was torn down as an early part of a planned renovation on The Gin. State officials came to Oxford Monday to add their efforts.
“The joint investigation is still ungoing,” Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Ricky Davis said. “It is suspected arson.”
The Fire Marshal’s Arson Reward Program is offering a reward of as much as $1,000 for information that would lead to a conviction in the burning of The Gin. Anyone with such information should call (888) 648-0877 or the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Office.
“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Jones said. “We’re hoping somebody talks.”