ST. JAMES CITY, Fla. - A popular tiki bar goes up in flames in St. James City. Now, the State Fire Marshal is calling it arson.
Mickey Szemak woke up to a horrifying scene - his neighborhood tiki bar engulfed in flames.
Thursday, very little is left of Low Key Tiki. Their brand-new back deck is charred down to its framework.
"I called the fire department, right away, and then I got my camera, and came outside and started taking pictures of it," Szemak said.
Firefighters fought for 45 minutes to put out the early-morning blaze, as Szemak captured the fiery scene on camera from his home just across the canal.
"It was very intense. It was nothing but a ball of fire. It looked like a bomb going off," Szemak said Thursday.
The owner of Low Key Tiki fears the inside of the restaurant is damaged beyond repair. On Thursday, two investigators from the State Fire Marshal's office scoured what's left of the structure, and determined it arson. They're now opening a criminal investigation into the fire, and who sparked the destructive flames. In the meantime, the future of the local hot spot is uncertain... just as tourist season is set to begin.
"I hate to see the guy lose this business at this time of year when everybody is getting ready to come down," Szemak said.
If you have any information on the fire at Low Key Tiki, you're asked to call Crime Stoppers.