A popular Lookout Mountain restaurant, Café On The Corner, was called “a total loss” after a gas line exploded about 4 a.m. Tuesday morning and a resulting fire consumed the town landmark on Scenic Highway.
Lookout Mountain Fire and Police Chief Randy Bowden said, “A patrol car was about a block away when it happened. There was an explosion where gas had collected from obviously a broken line and, when a refrigeration unit kicked on, we believe a spark must have ignited the gas.
He added, "This is a sad day after everybody had such a good time on the mountain Monday.”
The restaurant, owned and operated by Ruthie Oehmig, was enjoying a noticeable increase in business. Neither she nor any of her employees noticed anything out of order Monday night when they returned equipment they had used at an outdoor food court in connection with a Memorial Day bike race.
The fire moved quickly to the roof of the building and firefighters from both of the mountain’s Tennessee and Georgia communities were quickly joined by units from East Ridge and Rossville. The roof soon collapsed onto the blazing fire below and, while firefighters had the tragedy under control by dawn, Chief Bowden said it was a total loss.
The Café on the Corner was at the southern end of adjoining buildings in the town’s business district but the firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading. At one point the fire was so hot it melted the gas meter attached to the building. The building, believed to have built a century ago, once served as Massey’s Store.