WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says a Wichita restaurant fire was intentionally set.
They are now offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for setting the blaze.
The owners said they, their friends and family are sad to hear that the fire was started on purpose, but they say their focus now is on re-building their dream.
“If you let yourself just drown like this in ideas and thoughts it’s very bad,” said Ranya Taha, Petra Mediterranean Restaurant Co-owner.
Less than a week ago, fire crews responded to a structure fire at their restaurant causing substantial damage. Then there was no word of a cause, but investigators now say it’s arson. Monday evening the family says they have no idea who started it, but want answers.
“Who made this you know? I just want to ask him why,?” said Bashar Mahanweh, Petra Mediterranean Restaurant Co-owner.
And want to put the fire, behind them.
“Until then you know we are going to be concentrating on how to move forward and how to rebuild,” said Taha.
An ATF spokesperson told KSN there is no time frame for the investigation and encourage any people with information on the incident to contact them. When asked if it was being looked at as a “hate crime,” they said not right now.
“At this point we are not investigating it as a hate crime but certainly if our investigation reveals that the persons’ motives were along those lines, we will certainly change the focus of our investigation,” said John Ham, ATF Public Information Officer.
But the family says no matter what, they are here to stay.
“This is home, Wichita is our home,” said Taha.
If you know anything about the fire you are encouraged to contact the ATF by email or phone at 1-888-ATF-FIRE (1-888-283-3473), email ATFTips@atf.gov, contact ATF through its’ website at http://www.atf.gove/contact/atftips, or text 63975 using the code ATFKC.