The State Fire Marshal's office has ruled the fire at the former Reno's Roadhouse on U.S. 23 north an arson.
“We have ruled that fire an arson,” said Shane Cartmill, public information officer for the State Fire Marshal's office. “And the investigation is continuing with the assistance of the Scioto County Sheriff's Office.”
Cartmill said at the present time, fire marshal's investigators are continuing their on-scene investigation as well as witness interviews.
Fire destroyed the building, owned by SER Development of Prestonsburg, Ky., late Wednesday night.
“At this time, we are not releasing any details on the cause of the fire, but we are looking for anyone who has any information about the fire,” Cartmill said.
Cartmill said the Scioto County area has had a rash of arson cases recently.
“We know the Portsmouth community has had several of these fires in recent years, and we have always received help from the citizens of the community,” he said. “So we hope that will happen again, that people will help us find the person or persons who set this fire.”
Cartmill said anyone with information concerning the former steakhouse fire can call the State Fire Marshal's tip-line at (800) 589-2728, or the Scioto County Sheriff's Office at (740) 354-7566.
A spokesman for SER Development, Terry Fitzer, said the building was empty at the time of the fire, and he believed Reno's closed in 2003.
Rosemount, Valley, Rubyville, and Portsmouth fire departments responded to the blaze.
Cartmill said additional resources, including the possible use of heavy equipment, will be used early next week at the scene of the fire as investigators try to pinpoint the exact cause and origin.
“We just want to get that information out to the public, and with their help, maybe bring this to a quick close,” he said.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.