Steele Fire Investigation Continues | VideoJoel Porter | 8/13/2012
A pile of smoldering rubble is all that remains of the Lone Steer Motel in Steele.
"You can see we don`t have a lot to work with here yet. So, they`re in the process of sifting through that material now," said Steele Police Chief Dave Feland.
Feland says he doesn`t expect to salvage anything from the scene. Fire crews could only watch as flames engulfed the long-time motel and bar throughout the day on Sunday. Investigators have since been taking statements from the owners and witnesses, including Kenny and Jennifer Minnick.
"Had a kind of weird feeling in my stomach," Kenny said.
Minnick was one of the first people to stumble onto the fire just after 8:00 Sunday morning. Watching the scene Monday morning, he can`t help but spin a good luck keychain his wife clipped on.
"I feel very lucky. Clothes, everything else like that. That can be replaced. My family couldn`t be replaced."
ATF agents are on site and are continuing to treat the case as arson. The owner of the Lone Steer says he`s confident he knows who set the blaze. However, that`s little comfort for the Minnick family, who like many people staying here, lost everything in a matter of minutes.
"It`s overwhelming, because you just don`t know what to do. I never want to feel that again. Ever," Jennifer said.
Police now have a man in custody. But Kenny says after getting to know the Akhtar family, who are originally from Pakistan, he feels heartbroken.
"Their number one saying was, `We treat you like family.` And for this to happen to them, it`s just wrong, you know?"
A long time roadside stop that, in a matter of one day, is no more.
Lone Steer owner Mohammed Akhtar says while he carried business insurance, the building itself was not insured.
Those who have been displaced by the fire are now staying with several families in Steele.