Reward offered in Antlers arson investigation

Published: Jul. 22, 2016 at 8:24 AM CDT
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Ables' Bar-B-Que draws customers to Antlers from miles away.

"Our BBQ has always been something. The recipe has been the same for the last 28 years. we've never had to change it," said Wayla Ables, the restaurant's owner.

But the restaurant is closed this week, after fire ripped through the inside Tuesday morning.

"We were thinking okay it's just something simple," Ables recalled. "It's not going to be nothing major. Somewhere, somebody left something on."

However, an investigation by the Oklahoma State Fire Marshal shows that this fire was no accident.

"We can't release many details because it's an ongoing investigation, but it is definitely going to be an arson," stated Antlers Fire Chief, Delbert Gay.

This is the third arson in Antlers in the past month.

"They all have individual characteristics that don't match, so at this time we feel they're probably all separate," Gay explained.

Unlike the previous two cases, this is the first fire that was started in an occupied building, and it could have a big impact on Pushmataha County.

"It's a lot of tax revenue being lost in the county," said the president of the Antlers Business Association president, Randy Weeks. "It will be another reason people will go out of town to eat and spend their tax dollars in other counties and locations."

"This hurts," Ables agreed. "It hurts the community but it hurts us personally, not just as a business, but because this is our life."

Although the outside of the building looks okay, the Ables say it will take a while before they're able to serve up their signature ribeyes and Wayla fries.

That's because the interior needs to be fully gutted and rebuilt.

"Everything that was done on the inside and the outside, we've built ourselves, so it was very personal," Ables said.

The Antlers Business Association and Ables' Bar-B-Que are offering a $7,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to a conviction in this case.

If anyone has information on the Ables fire, they're asked asked to call OSBI or the Oklahoma Fire Marshal's arson hotline at the numbers below:

OSBI: (800) 522-8017

Arson Hotline: (800) 522-8666