An early morning grilling mishap led to a fire causing thousands of dollars in damages at Cosper's Country Meat Market, 2300 E. Elms Road, in Killeen on Tuesday. No injuries were reported.
Several Killeen Fire Department engines and rescue vehicles responded to the call, according to Deputy Chief Cody Simmons.
The back side of the building was a total loss but the interior of the building had no damage, thanks to a steel door, according to the owner.
The largest issue for the owners is getting electricity turned back on after power and gas were turned off by responding firefighters, said owner Paul Young on Tuesday morning.
Young said he thinks an ember from the smoker where brisket was cooking dropped down onto the smoker's base plate and ignited a blaze that spread to a gas cooker adjacent.
"The gas was like adding jet fuel to the fire," Young said. He said they are facing at least $50,000 in damages to the commercial cookers and building.
The Killeen Fire Department called Young at around 3:30 a.m. to tell him about the fire as they were working to extinguish it.
"I hugged as many firefighters as I could," he said. Responding firefighters got a bonus in terms of some meat to put on the griddle, he said.
"They were tickled to death about that," Young said. After the power was cut none of the meat in the freezers could be sold, although the units were still cold. "So many firefighters responded and they were gracious in their demeanor."
Young was thankful for the outpouring of sympathy and support after the fire, as his phone has been ringing off the hook with family and friends.
"It was gut-wrenching. You have so many thoughts go through your head when something like this happens," Young said. He was concerned about employees losing work and also for the customers who visit the store daily.
"After 34 years in business we've built a great rapport," Young said.
Young and his wife bought the business from Wayne Cosper, who still owns the building and property.
"Now we're going to rebuild and get back with it," he said. "We practice every precaution but you just don't know if there's an accident waiting to happen."