Fire destroyed a long-standing strip club in Gray early Thursday morning, completely gutting the interior.
Firefighters were called to the Mouse’s Ear Exotic Sports Bar, off Tenn. Highway 36 near Bobby Hicks Highway in Gray about 5 a.m.
Gray Volunteer Fire Department Lt. James Morrow said someone called 911 saying flames were coming through the roof of the building.
“When we got here the entire building was involved in fire,” Morrow said. “The entire roof was gone, caving in.”
Morrow said firefighters worked for about two hours to get the blaze under control.
As of 10 a.m. the ruins were still smoldering.
Firefighters were still extinguishing hot spots in the building as of 9 a.m. The interior of the building no longer resembled a structure, with heavy smoke rising from the charred remains of what may have been roof rafters, walls and furniture. The exterior walls remained standing.
Outside, firefighters had discarded burned, smoldering chairs and other items that were unrecognizable.
There were no reports of injuries.
Morrow said it was too early to tell what started the fire.
“At this point it looks like it started in the back corner, left-hand corner of the building,” Morrow said.
He said insurance investigators will likely try to determine the cause of the fire.
Morrow said the building was a “total loss.”
Business owner W.J. Browning said his security company notified him of the fire around 5 a.m. and he drove from Knoxville to the scene.
Browning said the building burned once before in 1993 when it was set on fire around the time the business opened. He said the Gray Volunteer Fire Department extinguished that blaze and the structure was rebuilt in a day and a half.
He did not know what happened Thursday morning and did not say what would occur next.
“We’re insured, so we’ll see what happens,” Browning said.
According to Morrow, besides Gray firefighters, crews from Sulphur Springs, Fall Branch and Jonesborough also responded to the fire.
Fire crews continued to work at the smoldering scene well into the morning.