Published on June 24, 2008 in the Antrim Review
(Archived version available at www.antrimreview.net)
By Melissa Lee
BELLAIRE - More than a week after Gio’s Trattoria Grille in Bellaire suffered a devastating fire that left little but ashes, questions remain as to what caused the fire.
Little information has been forthcoming from authorities, who have said only that they are still waiting to hear back from the State Fire Marshal with his report and can’t comment until then.
Gio’s owner Greg Vereyken says that he has heard nothing more than what he was told by police on the first day of the investigation. From what he knows, the June 9 fire appeared to have originated in the kitchen area and began in the hood of a grill or from an electrical malfunction.
Vereyken, who said the restaurant was insured, has been taking bids from numerous excavating companies to clear the site once the investigation is complete.
The fire is believed to have ignited sometime in the early morning hours between midnight, when the last employee departed the building, and 3:00 a.m., when the Bellaire Fire Department responded to the first call. Mancelona and South Torch Lake fire departments also responded.
By 9:30 a.m. the last of the flames had been put out and M-88 was opened to full traffic once again, but it was clear that the restaurant was a total loss.
Ironically, Vereyken had been planning to open another restaurant in Kalkaska the same day.
Although the Kalkaska eatery is now officially open for business, the Gio’s owner said he is “absolutely” planning to rebuild in Bellaire once the investigation into the fire is complete.