-- By Bay City News
Fire investigators from Fairfield, Solano County and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are probing the cause of a fire that gutted the Original Pepperbelly's Comedy & Variety Theater on Friday.
Federal investigators are involved because of the magnitude of the five-alarm blaze, Fairfield Fire Chief Vince Webster said.
The point of origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation.
"There is nothing to suspect arson," Webster said.
The fire was reported at 6:55 p.m. at the popular club, located at 849 Texas St. in Fairfield.
More than 80 firefighters from 20 agencies in Solano County and the American Canyon Fire Protection District in Napa County assisted with the blaze, Webster said.
Flames were shooting dozens of feet into the air when crews arrived at the scene, Fairfield Fire Department Battalion Chief Bob Stoffel said.
The fire was controlled around 10:15 p.m. and was extinguished around 1 a.m. Saturday, Webster said.
"The comedy club was completely destroyed and a bar next to it has smoke and heat damage," Webster said.
A closed door between the comedy club and bar, which are part of the same business, kept flames out of the bar, Webster said. The business' insurance company is still working to assess the damage.
"The firefighters did an extremely, extremely good job confining the fire. It's unfortunate damage was done. I feel bad for the owner," Webster said.
Wayne Mayhew, the owner of the building, said today he is still too overwhelmed to talk about the blaze and his future plans for the building.
"I have nothing to offer. It happened so quickly," Mayhew said.
The operator of the club, Taranbir Dhanoa, could not be reached for comment.
An attorney's office behind the comedy club sustained some water damage but remains open for business, Webster said.
The building dates back to the 1960s.
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