Officials now believe that a fire at the former Don Lolo Mexican Restaurant building in LaFayette was accidentally started by squatters.

According to Fire Chief Stacey Meeks, after the state fire marshal completed his on-scene investigation, including witness testimony and what he observed on scene, it was concluded that the fire originated on the second floor.

At around 2 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 30, firefighters responded to a commercial fire at the former Don Lolo Mexican Restaurant (also the former Dinner Bell restaurant) at 202 South Main Street.

The empty building still had active electrical power, Meeks said.

In recent weeks, witnesses have observed suspicious activity around the building that would indicate the possibility of squatters using the building as a shelter, Meeks said.

The fire was most likely accidental in nature due to squatters, he said.

No petroleum-based accelerants were used, which have been found at previous fires that were ruled as arsons, Meeks said.

Josh O'Bryant is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He can be reached at the Walker County Messenger office at 706-638-1859 and by email at