TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WATE) — The Townsend community is searching for answers following a major fire Monday night that left a popular restaurant completely demolished and injured six firefighters.
Walker’s Catfish Cabin and BBQ was a new restaurant inside a decades-old building right on the edge of the city. Now all that’s left is rubble.
“Flames coming out of the roof, the roof had collapsed,” said Don Stallions, Townsend Area Volunteer Fire Department Chief. “Flames coming out of the windows. You couldn’t even discern what the structure was.”
Even several hours after the fire was extinguished, smoke continued pouring from the building, crews worked to replace melted lines and small pockets of fire could be found burning from deep within the rubble.
Frank White said he remembers building the restaurant back in the 80’s. He has watched as different owners, managers and businesses came and went. He told WATE he never expected something like this.
As folks drive past the rubble, WATE found a man standing in the middle of the smoke and debris giving thanks. That man is the restaurant’s manager Keith Guire. While shocked and saddened by the loss, he’s giving thanks for a blessing in disguise.
“Yesterday we had to shut down for building repair,” Guire explained. “I couldn’t let anybody in. I had to replace drywall.”
Most nights, the restaurant was open until nine in the evening — around the time Monday night’s blaze started.
“God works in mysterious ways,” Guire said. “They’re not my ways, they’re His.”
As the community searches for answers, Guire and his employees are urging people to remain “Townsend Strong.”
“It’s not about getting knocked around, it’s about standing up,” Guire told WATE. “Tough isn’t what you can dish out. It’s what you can take.”
When it comes to what Guire’s plan is, he is leaving it in the hands of God.
At last report, no fundraisers have been put together. If that changes, this story will be updated with that information.