Whitt's Barbecue damaged by fire, closes for month
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
An early morning fire has left customers of a favorite barbecue restaurant with mouths watering this holiday weekend and for much of the summer.
Ross Bennett of Hartselle reported a fire at 12:50 a.m. Tuesday at Whitt's Barbecue on Nance Ford Road. Hartselle Fire Department quickly responded to the call and was able to contain the fire before the structure was lost.
"I'm really proud of the Hartselle Fire Department," Alton Sulcer, owner of Whitt's, said. "It was remarkable how quick they responded and salvaged a lot of the building."
A large portion of the roof, ceiling, electrical and duct work were lost in the fire. However, Sulcer said the majority of the restaurant's product was salvaged as the coolers were not damaged. The 27-year old portion of the building received the most fire and water damage, but Sulcer said the newest portion of the building, constructed in 1996, is still in tact.
"I suspect it was probably faulty wiring that started the fire," Sulcer said.
HFD Chief Rickey Joe Smith said, based on early investigations, the fire started in the attic of the business and was not of a suspicious origin.
"While the cause is still undetermined, I can definitely say the fire was not intentional," Smith said.
Firefighters were on the scene for most of Tuesday morning and Hartselle Utilities worked quickly to restore power to the business to prevent any further loss of product in the coolers.
Sulcer also owns Whitt's Barbecue II in Cullman and employs 15 people between the two businesses.
Contractors, electricians and cleaning crews were at the business within hours of the incident to secure the building and begin reconstruction plans.
"We hope to be back up and running in a month," Sulcer speculated. "We will work as quickly as possible and won't delay."