The investigation into a fire at a local restaurant is ongoing, according to the State Fire Marshal’s office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The Wichita Fire Department hasn’t returned calls for comment.
Petra Mediterranean Restaurant, in the 6100 block of East 21st Street, near Woodlawn, caught fire shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday.
Fire investigators for all three agencies were on scene throughout the day.
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“Investigators from the Office of the State Fire Marshal are still on the scene assisting with this investigation and the cause is still under investigation,” Jill Bronaugh, spokeswoman for the fire marshal said Thursday.
On Wednesday afternoon, owners of the restaurant, Ranya Taha and Bashar Mahanweh, said they believe the fire may be a hate crime.
The words “Go Back” were found spray painted outside the charred restaurant on their storage unit.
Taha said those two words were not there when they had left the restaurant the night before the fire.
“It looks like a hate crime,” she told The Eagle on Wednesday, “but we can’t tell until the investigation is done.”
A spokesman for the ATF said investigators are currently trying to determine how the fire started. Based on the cause, they can more easily determine if it was a hate crime.
“The FBI is aware of the fire, if the investigation would turn into a hate crime investigation, then they would become more involved,” ATF’s John Hamm said.
Petra has been open since April at 6140 E. 21st St.