An overnight fire at a restaurant in southern Upshur County led to the discovery of gaming devices, Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb reported.
The sheriff said the State Fire Marshal’s Office was called in after area firefighters were summoned at 5:36 a.m. Tuesday to The Outpost Cajun Grill, a seafood restaurant at Texas 300 and FM 1844, Seven Pines Road.
Webb emphasized that Paul Steelman with the State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating the case, and that he did not know whether anything illegal was uncovered in the restaurant.
“A gaming room doesn’t necessarily mean it was illegal,” Webb said.
The sheriff did not know details of the probe beyond to confirm the discovery of the devices.
“That’s what we heard, is that there is a game room there,” Webb said, adding he did not know if arrests had been made or gaming machines seized. “I have no information about either one of those questions. ... The investigation of the fire was turned over to ... Steelman.”
Steelman did not return calls to his office.
Steelman, who was at the restaurant Tuesday, refused to say at the scene why he was there. Another person from the state fire marshal’s office gave a reporter the phone number to the Texas Department of Insurance, but no one answered the line and there was no voicemail option.
Comments on the restaurant’s Facebook page predated Tuesday’s fire, but several recent ones revealed dissatisfaction with the eatery’s atmosphere. The latest, from June 14, read as follows:
“Not a restaurant anymore. Walked in and back out. Reeked of cigarette smoke and was dark and filled with gaming machines.”
The small parking lot at the restaurant typically remains full of cars and other vehicles. Steelman had the crime scene tape removed from the site at 2:50 p.m. Tuesday.
A call to the phone number above the entrance to the restaurant, which has an out-of-area code, also was not answered and did not offer a voicemail option.