Fire investigation continues at site of former Hungry Fisherman, Tripp's Seafood restaurants

Fire investigation continues at site of former Hungry Fisherman, Tripp's Seafood restaurants

December 28th, 2013 by Alex Green in Local Regional News

Photo by Laura McNutt/Times Free Press.

Investigators with the East Ridge police and fire departments talk Friday at the remains of the former Hungry Fisherman restaurant which burned early Christmas morning. Authorities said that human remains were found in the ashes of the fire.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

State bomb and arson investigators and local authorities Friday continued to comb through the rubble of the burned former East Ridge restaurant where human remains were found earlier this week.

Authorities are being tight-lipped about the remains, not giving away any information about whether the body was male, female, adult or child. The nature of the remains' discovery and the holiday week compounded may mean autopsy results will take longer than usual coming back.

There has been no word on whether the remains belong to someone killed in Wednesday's fire or someone who died prior to the blaze and whose remains were in the building when it burned.

Initial reports from the day of the fire did not mention the remains found at the location.

According to Cpl. Robert Wade of the East Ridge police, firefighters responded to the old restaurant building, at 6715 Ringgold Road, after a fire was reported at 3:20 a.m. on Christmas morning. The facility once housed the Hungry Fisherman and Tripp's Seafood restaurants.

The building was supposedly vacant for years, which presents another challenge in identifying who could have been inside in the middle of winter and why.

And apart from the identity of the remains, authorities are also still investigating how the fire started. East Ridge Fire Department officials at the scene Friday afternoon did not say how far along the investigation is or what preliminary evidence suggests.

The fire was at least one of a handful on Christmas Day in the greater Chattanooga area and may be the second which resulted in a fatality, depending on what investigators determine about the remains.

In Tunnel Hill, Ga., a wheelchair-bound man died in a fire on Christmas when he could not escape his home.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731.