Cheshire Bridge restaurant fire ruled arson, ‘person of interest’ sought

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

$10,000 reward offered in case

A massive fire that destroyed a popular restaurant along Cheshire Bridge Road last week was intentionally set, Atlanta fire officials said.

Now, investigators are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Las Margaritas has been closed since Aug. 9 after a fire gutted the restaurant, Atlanta fire spokesman Sgt. Cortez Stafford said. No one was injured in the blaze, but the restaurant, which had been there for more than two decades, is closed indefinitely and will need to be rebuilt.

On Tuesday, fire investigators released surveillance photos of a “person of interest” sought for questioning in the fire. Stafford said the man has not been identified, but was seen near the restaurant around the time the it went up in flames.

ExploreBlaze consumes restaurant near fire-damaged bridge in NE Atlanta

“Investigators believe the person caught on camera may have set this fire,” Stafford told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re hoping the public can help us locate this guy.”

About 30 Atlanta firefighters responded to Las Margaritas when an intense fire engulfed the free-standing building around dinnertime. The restaurant is closed on Monday so there were no guests inside at the time, officials previously said.

The restaurant caught fire about a quarter-mile from another blaze that damaged a bridge on Cheshire Bridge Road several days earlier. City transportation officials said the busy road in northeast Atlanta could take a year or more to reopen if the bridge requires a complete rebuild.

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

The fire under the bridge, which was further fueled when it damaged a 4-inch gas line, began the night of Aug. 4 and burned with intensity for about 24 hours. It caused enough damage to leave the bridge, which crosses over Peachtree Creek, unsafe and impassable, according to DOT officials. Cheshire Bridge Road has been closed indefinitely between Woodland and Faulkner roads.

Anyone with information about the Las Margaritas fire is asked to call the Georgia Arson Control hotline at 1-800-282-5804.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.