GROVE, Okla. - Many residents fear an arsonist may be on the loose after fire rips through two businesses in a span of 24 hours.
The first fire gutted the American Grill restaurant on early Monday morning. Investigators said the fire appears to have been deliberately set.
The second fire occurred on early Tuesday morning at the Jiffy Market, a convenience store and diner located a few blocks away.
Investigators said it is too early to determine how the Jiffy Market fire started.
Even so, many residents tell 2NEWS they fear the fire may be the work of an arsonist and may be connected to the restaurant fire set the day before.
"It's just a horrible thing to see happen," said Darren Stroud.
Stroud operates a barbershop a few doors down from the Jiffy Market.
"For a lot of people, [it]is their second home," said Stroud.
Jason Shuey owns the Jiffy Market.
"This is my life. It's my livelihood," said Shuey.
Shuey took ownership of the store 10 years ago, but the store has been around for decades.
"A lot of people just came in for conversation, to get a good cup of coffee," said Shuey.
While Shuey feels devastated about the loss, he said he is more concerned about his employees than anything else.
"My workers are basically family to me and they're displaced right now. They're not getting a paycheck. They're not getting work," said Shuey. "Our employees, what are they going to do? We're running into the holiday season and they're out of work."
Shuey said he had more questions than answers regarding the fire, but his wife, a co-owner, said the fire occurring one day after the other fire at the American Grill seemed like more than a coincidence.
While authorities caution against speculation, at least until investigators determine a cause, Grove police chief, Mark Morris, is taking action to calm fears.
Morris said he has asked outside agencies, like the Delaware County Sheriff's Office and Oklahoma Highway Patrol, to help increase law enforcement presence in the community.
"We are going to increase our law enforcement activity in and around the community over the next couple of weeks," said Morris.
A state fire marshal agent remained at the scene of the Jiffy Market fire late Tuesday.
It could be several days before an official cause is determined, investigators said.
As for the owner, Shuey said he hopes to rebuild.
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