Lightning Suspected of Starting Fire at Lucille's Restaurant in Mulhall
By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9
MULHALL, Oklahoma -- An early morning blaze has destroyed a popular restaurant in a historic downtown building in Mulhall.
Crescent police dispatcher Ryan Collier said a resident reported the fire at Lucille's Restaurant at 3:41 a.m. Wednesday.
Fire officials were able to get the fire under control by 6 a.m., but not until after the fire had gutted most of the restaurant.
Lucille's was the heart and soul of the Mulhall community. Customers would drive in from all over to experience a taste of the Old Wild West.
"We were always amazed someone would get in their car and drive an hour and a half, two hours to eat at our little restaurant, but they also claimed it was well worth the drive," said Jim Mears, Lucille's General Manager.
Lucille's was named after Mulhall's most famous citizen, Lucille Mulhall. She was nicknamed "America's first cowgirl."
"She was an actual cowgirl who rode around with Will Rogers, and she was just amazing," said Terri Roselius, Lucille's owner.
Lucille's building had also a history of its own. The building was an old bank built in 1894.
Outlaws robbed the bank on more than one occasion. The old teller's desk served as the bar and the vault brought the Old Wild West to life.
"There's a place in the ceiling where the outlaws would come through and rob the bank and we've kept that alive for the fun history of it," Roselius said.
But fire is now a part of the building's history and the next chapter has yet to be written.
"It hasn't all sank it yet, but the more you look at it, it gets to you," said Lucille's employee Craig Phillips.
Fire officials said it appears the old bank building survived the fire but experts will be brought in to make sure it's structurally sound.
The old bank was also among a few buildings in town that survived the May 3rd, 1999 tornado.
The fire marshal's office said the blaze started in the kitchen and was not intentionally set. Investigators suspect lightning may have sparked the blaze.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.