The interior of the Mystic Grill burned, but the popular façade for the fictional restaurant featured prominently in "The Vampire Diaries" remains intact and shouldn't affect filming.
The law offices of Alexander Royston and Carter Accounting caught fire around 6:40 a.m. Thursday and suffered significant damage, but Assistant Fire Marshal Tony Smith said the outside of the building and Mystic Grill sign weren't badly damaged.
Warner Bros. spokesman Chris McLaughlin said Thursday that the company doesn't do interior shots of the Mystic Grill in Covington, those are handled on a set in Decatur, but even if the exterior wasn't reading for filming in late July, he said the show had plenty of previously shot exterior footage that the crew could probably work with and use as not to delay filming.
"It's funny because the tonight is the finale, and a lot of people have been tweeting ‘Did evil Alaric set fire to the Mystic Grill?'" McLaughlin said, referencing one of the shows' main characters. The restaurant was also set on fire in the show in Season 2.
"Uh oh. In real life, Elena's house is for sale and the Mystic Grill is on fire. What the hell happened in the season finale?" the show's executive producer Julie Plec tweeted. The 5,900 square foot, 5 bedroom, 3.5 bath home at 2104 Floyd Street is used as the home of the show's main actress Elena Gilbert. It's currently on the market for $450,000.
As for the Mystic Grill's true owners and full-time tenants, lawyer Jimmy Alexander said he didn't have a cost for the damage, but said repairs could possibly reach $1 million considering the building, built in 1890, will now need to come up to 2012 codes.
Alexander didn't expect to be back into the building for six months to a year and said the law firm is temporarily moving operations to the old Fowler House on Floyd Street. Carter Accounting is also expected to move there.
Alexander said he hoped operations, including phones, would be up and running tomorrow, though he noted the attorneys were continuing to work on deals Thursday, including one attorney who used a friend's office in Atlanta to close a big deal.
Assistant Fire Marshal Smith said the building will most likely be required to be more disability-friendly, have additional exits and emergency lighting, thicker firewalls between tenants and possible event a sprinkler system.
The fire was caused by a delivery truck driver with Superior Plus Construction, who was making a turn in the parking lot behind the building when his tall truck got snagged on some power lines pulling them and a utility pole down, said Covington Police Capt. Ken Malcom.
Alexander said the pole falling pulled the electric wires in the building, which caused wires to pop at a weak point in the front of building leading to a fire. While three offices were damaged, two on the ground floor and one on the second floor, nearly all the legal and accounting files from the two companies were saved, along with the majority of computers. Alexander said only six individual files were damaged.
Using a video surveillance tape, police were able to track down the driver and gave him a citation for leaving the scene of an accident and striking a fixed object. According to Malcom, the truck driver said he was unaware he had pulled down the wires.
"I've never seen better service and kindness than I got out of city fire and police departments; they were uniformly wonderful and cooperative with everything we asked them to do," Alexander said.
Smith said the building suffered a lot of smoke and water damage, but the main concern was the fact the building might not be structurally sound, as some of the floor trusses had pulled themselves away from the wall. Smith said all the weight from the second floor was resting on one beam, which had sagged six inches.
Restoration people were working to clean up the water damage and remove the office's contents Thursday, but Smith said the insurance company adjuster would likely be out tomorrow, after which actual construction could start.
"The last couple of times we've started messing with buildings on the square, we've had to have them taken down. Because this building is connected to an entire row of other buildings, we don't want to lose it," Smith said.
Main Street Covington Director Josephine Kelly said the surrounding buildings only suffered from minor smoke damaged and were able to open later in the day. She too thanked the fire department for their quick response which prevented the fire from spreading further.
(May 10, 11:53 a.m.) The building that houses the law firm of Alexander Royston, but is more widely known as the Mystic Grill, burned this morning. The roadway around the square is still blocked with emergency vehicles and firefighters are working the scene.
According to Covington Assistant Fire Marshal Tony Smith, the initial call came in around 6:40 a.m. The caller reportedly said there was a transformer and power lines on fire near the square. They had been alerted to the fire because they heard an explosion. Smith said the building could be a total loss inside.
Smith said the fire had vented through the roof and firefighters continued to monitor the inside of the building. In older buildings that have been remodeled, fires can get trapped in false ceilings and other remodeled areas that might not appear obvious at first.
Check back for more on this developing story.