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Fire investigation ongoing

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Investigation is ongoing for a fire that heavily damaged a local business Tuesday morning.

The fire at T-Bone's Sports Bar & Grill, 2415 General Hays Road, was discovered at approximately 8:45 a.m. by Nex-Tech employee Allen Lang, who promptly called 911.

Nex-Tech, a local communications service company, operates out of two buildings on either side of T-Bone's in the Centennial Merchants complex.

According to a release from the Hays Police Department, six local firefighters on duty responded to the call and upon arrival discovered "heavy smoke coming from the restaurant with a significant fire burning inside."

Several buildings are connected to each other in the complex, so more trucks were called in from area departments, including Ellis County Rural, Victoria and the city of Ellis.

The release said the restaurant sustained heavy damage, while some of the adjacent businesses received smoke damage.

No one was in the building at the time, and owner/manager Mike Butler was home getting ready to come to work to open at 11.

Butler operates the business in the building he owns along with his brother, Brian Butler, and their dad, Ralph Butler. Mike Butler confirmed the building was insured.

The fire crews were able to contain the fire within an hour and kept it from spreading to other businesses.

"As of now, we don't have a cause or determination or anything," Hays Fire Department Captain Aaron Ditter said late Tuesday afternoon.

Ditter said the extra firefighters were called in to ensure the fire didn't spread to other businesses.

"With a building like that, with all those businesses in it, it could have been (a lot worse)," he said.

Jeff Wick, chief executive officer of Nex-Tech, said its south building -- the one directly connected to T-Bone's that houses the company's marketing and media departments, as well as numerous technicians -- received smoke damage. Ditter also said Heartland Crafts & Gifts, another business connected to T-Bone's, also received smoke damage.

All buildings in the complex were evacuated, and Wick sent some employees home and others to the company's Internet building downtown at 210 E. 12th.

Wick indicated he would relocate some employees from the south building to the north building and others to the Internet location today.