Cause of Dallas' Lower Greenville fire remains unknown

Investigators were still trying to determine Wednesday the cause of the blaze that destroyed four businesses on Lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas early Tuesday, but they have traced its origin to the popular Terilli's Italian Restaurant & Bar, officials said.

Losses were estimated at $1.22 million for the historic building and $418,580 for contents, said Jason Evans, spokesman for Dallas Fire-Rescue.

The businesses shared a roof along the 2800 block of Greenville Avenue. The other businesses were the Greenville Bar and Grill, Mick's Bar and the Hurricane Grill.

Debris from Tuesday's fire has to be removed before investigators can get inside to find the cause, Evans said.

"They do believe the fire started in Terilli's, got into the common attic space by way of the walls and spread north," he said.

No other buildings were damaged. One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation, Evans said.

Business leaders have said the 31st annual St. Patrick's Day parade on Greenville Avenue will continue as planned March 13. The party that follows is traditionally held in a two-block area between Vanderbilt Avenue and Vickery Boulevard, near the site of the fire.

About 125 people are out of work because of the fire. To help them, the Greenville Avenue Area Business Association established the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund at the Branch Banking & Trust across from the burned building. Donations can be made at any BB&T branch, according to information on the association's Web site.

Angela Morris, the bank's branch manager, said a PayPal account for the fund might be set up by the end of the week.

Avi Adelman, manager of the association, said four business associations, including his, have made $500 donations to the account.

"These are neighborhood businesses -- heart-and-soul places," Adelman said. "These people are your family."

BILL MILLER, 817-390-7684