Cause still unclear in market blaze

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Authorities are still trying to determine what caused a fire Friday that destroyed a popular Hispanic supermarket and restaurant in Lawrenceville.

An Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms official is assisting Gwinnett fire investigators, which is common with fires involving significant damages or high-dollar loss. As of Tuesday, their efforts had not pinpointed a definitive cause, said Fire Department spokesman Capt. Thomas Rutledge.

"The status remains undetermined and is still under active investigation at this point," he said.

The family-owned business, El Arco Iris No. 1 Supermarket, had operated at 276 E. Crogan St. near downtown Lawrenceville for 12 years. It was closed Friday in protest of Georgia's illegal immigration law, House Bill 87, taking effect.

Fire officials called the building a total loss.

Rigoberto Garcia had owned the business from day one. On Tuesday, he said he's in limbo as the investigation proceeds. Family members at the scene told the Daily Post the building was insured.

As for employees, Garcia said, "They're unemployed, staying home and waiting for us to determine what I can do for them."