MOODY, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE: The State Fire Marshall confirms that the fire that destroyed Moody restaurant Vinny Vito’s was intentionally set.
At this time, it is being investigated as arson.
ORIGINAL: Fire crews spent Monday morning at a Moody restaurant, trying to make sure the flames stayed out at Vinny Vito’s Steaks and Italian Restaurant.
Firefighters were called to the restaurant before 10 p.m. Sunday night. When they arrived, they said heavy smoke was coming from the building.
Monday morning, smoke was still visible from the building, although fire crews said they were monitoring the building to be sure winds did not cause the blaze to reignite.
The building has been Vinny Vito’s since March. Before that, it was Ponchos Mexican Restaurant for several years.
Rosi Betancourt’s uncle, Miguel, owns the building, although he rented it to the manager of Vinny Vito’s. Betancourt said most her family members worked there when it was called Ponchos.
“I mean, I moved from Georgia to here just so I could work here. All the family came and worked here. It’s bad. It’s heartbreaking. It really is,” Beancourt said.
The owner of Vinny Vito’s did not want to go on camera with WIAT 42 News, but he said off camera that the fire started as he was locking up for the night. He believes the blaze began in a heating unit upstairs.
Fire investigators say they cannot confirm that, as of Monday afternoon. They are still working on the scene, with help from state officials.
The building was insured both by its owner and the manager of the restaurant, but it is a total loss.
Betancourt said her family is still trying to figure out what they’ll do next.
“All of it’s gone. We would have to rebuild it now. Start from scratch,” she said.
Copyright 2016 WIAT42 News.