Thai restaurant's founder watches life's work burn | News
South Tampa, Florida -- The owner of the Thai Market and Kitchen property says she owned the place for 30 years before selling the successful business to another person two years ago.
In that time, Naru Mol says there was never a problem. But overnight it was all lost in a matter of minutes.
For three decades, Mol had put her heart and soul into making her Thai restaurant and marketplace a successful South Tampa landmark. Now, she could hardly stand to look at the charred remains of what was.
Although she sold the business two years ago, she still owns the building, which was charred by flames and reduced to rubble.
"Why?" she asked sadly. "I opened it for 32 years, and I had no problem."
Investigators say it was clearly arson. They say the fire was started in multiple locations to conceal a robbery. With no one believed to have been inside, firefighters attacked the blaze from the outside.
"We took that approach to try to maintain and contain the fire as quickly as we could without risking our firefighters' lives," said Debra Sue Warshefski, spokesperson for Tampa Fire Rescue.
Within hours, investigators announced they'd made an arrest. Shockingly, the suspect was 34-year-old James Nettles, the step-son of the woman who'd purchased Mol's business.
Nettles has a long arrest record, say police, and was spotted running out the back of the building. After a short foot chase, he was arrested with the DVR system from the property's surveillance cameras still in his possession.
"It's just lost!" said Ubon Pro, whose beauty salon was also destroyed by the fire.
Pro and her husband Ed said the revelation that Nettles was the suspect made an already unbearable situation that much worse.
"There must have been some kind of discord between them and we knew nothing about it," said Ed Pro, "But he torched them and took us with them."
"I guess he's cooling his heels in the clink. At least they caught him. We can get satisfaction out of that," he added.
Mol says she no longer had insurance on the building itself, so she'll have to deal with the insurance used by her tenants. But she recognizes that the circumstances surrounding the fire could make that more complicated.