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UPDATE: Cause of fire at Pembroke restaurant determined
A back storage portion of Johnny's Grill in Pembroke was destroyed by fire Wednesday night. - photo by Jeff Whitten

The Dec. 5 fire that damaged Johnny’s Grill, a popular restaurant in the historic downtown section of Pembroke, is now believed to have started in a clothes dryer.

Pembroke Fire Chief Peter Waters said both the state  fire marshal's investigation and surveillance video shows that is what happened, so now it's in the hands of the insurance company.

Waters said Pembroke firefighters were called around 11 p.m. Dec. 5 and arrived to find fire already through the roof of the restaurant at 78 West Bacon Street. The fire heavily damaged the restaurant's  rear storage area, which was an addition to the main building and the hardware store next door suffered smoke damage as well. 

Fire departments from Bryan County, Bulloch County, Effingham County and Evans County provided mutual aid, Waters said.

The restaurant is owned by former Bryan County High School football coach Ron Lewis and his wife Gena. 

“We ask that everyone keep the Johnny’s family in their prayers," Pembroke City Manager Alex Floyd said. "This is a loss to them and the whole downtown community. I want to salute all our firefighters and all the neighboring dept’s that came to help. These old downtowns have their challenges, especially in emergency situations but it was contained relatively quickly with no injuries reported. Our job now is to get Mr. and Mrs. Lewis the reports and documentation they need to begin the rebuilding process.”

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