He declined to comment further on the specific cause of the fire.
“We have determined that it was an intentionally set fire, and we have launched a criminal investigation to locate the parties responsible,” Paulk said.
The fire began just after 9 p.m. Saturday and kept Jasper firefighters on the scene for more than five hours. A vehicle was reportedly seen leaving the location shortly before the fire was reported.
O’Malley’s moved from the location on U.S. Highway 78 on the west side of Jasper approximately three years ago, and the building had been unoccupied since that time. There was no power to the building at the time of the fire.
The fire marshal’s office is also investigating the Christmas Eve fire that destroyed Hickoryland Bar-B-Q in downtown Jasper. No cause or determination has been established in that fire and the investigation is ongoing.
Anyone with information on either fire should contact the state fire marshal at 1-800-654-0775 or on the website at www.firemarshal. alabama.gov. Information can be provided anonymously.