KANE COUNTY, Utah – An early morning fire destroyed a popular family pizzeria on Wednesday. Hot Mama’s Pizza and Brew has been part of the small Duck Creek Village for more than 10 years.
The fire broke out around 5:45 Wednesday morning. Pizzeria owners San Atkinson and Ashley Romero said they got the call shortly after. They rushed over, but by the time they got there, there was nothing to do but watch their business burn to the ground.
“It was completely engulfed in flames,” Romero said. “It was kind of shocking to see.”
Volunteer firefighters from the Cedar Mountain Fire Protection District fought back the growing fire, but say the flames were too out of control. They focused their efforts on containing the fire until crews from Kanab, Cedar City, and Zion National Park arrived to help.
“It was a fast moving fire that got out of hand,” said Cedar Mountain Fire Protection District chief Casey Tuttle. “Once we had extra engines and extra personnel, we were able to put the fire out.”
A neighboring business also lost a small cabin.
The fire has taken more than the building from Atkinson and Romero, it’s a business they’ve run together for eight years, and inherited from Atkinson’s uncle. The walls, they said, hold many memories.
“I proposed to her in there,” Atkinson said. “Our friends, our loved ones, everything we know was in that back part. Everything up here.”
Thursday, insurance adjusters examined the ashes and community members came to lend their shoulder to cry on. Local cabin owner Michelle Wilgar said she was heartbroken to hear the news and had to come see it for herself.
“I cried,” Wilgar said. “I want to cry now. It’s terrible. I was flabbergasted when I saw it.”
Atkinson and Romero said it’s that community support that keeps them going. They said it’s inspiring to see the rally after the tragedy.
“You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who have come out for us,” Romero said. “It’s touching.”
Atkinson says they’re already planning to rebuild and reopen. That make take several months, but the community said they’ll be there to buy pizza.