A suspicious fire that gutted a closed pizza restaurant near the gates of Laurel Bay military housing in Burton early Monday is being investigated by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
The fire at the former Bilit's Pizza & Philly Steaks, 500 Laurel Bay Road, was reported at about 4 a.m., according to Burton Fire District spokesman Dan Byrne.
The Sheriff's Office Fire Scene Investigation Team has deemed the fire suspicious, according to a news release, which did not explain why.
The building has been vacant for several years, is under foreclosure and was not connected for electrical service, according to the release. A door was found open when emergency personnel arrived.
According to Beaufort County records, the property is owned by CBC National Bank. The title was forfeited in May 2011.
Marines at the gates to the housing community smelled smoke, went to investigate and discovered the flames, Byrne said.
When firefighters arrived, fire was shooting through the roof in the rear of the building. Since the roof was unstable and the building was vacant, firefighters fought the flames from outside, Byrne said.
It took about 20 minutes to control the fire and about 45 minutes to extinguish it.
Roads surrounding the building, including Mroz Road, Capehart Circle and parts of Laurel Bay Road, were closed to traffic while firefighters put out the blaze.
There were no injuries, though a firefighter who was not fighting the fire was transported from the scene after complaining of dizziness. Byrne said the fire district had done a blood drive this weekend, which might have been the cause of the firefighter's light-headedness.
The Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department and Beaufort County EMS assisted.
Anyone with information is asked to call Cpl. B. Disbrow at 843-255-3407 or Crimestoppers at 1-888-274-6372.
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
- Fire destroys recently sold home in Beaufort's The Point late Wednesday night, June 20, 2013
- Burton family temporarily displaced after stove fire, April, 25, 2013
- Fire damages roof of Burton home, Jan. 14, 2012