CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, N.Y. (WKBW) — The owner of the Mayville Diner in Chautauqua County has been arrested and charged with arson after police say he was responsible for setting the fire that destroyed the restaurant last week. 40-year-old Michael Ellis is charged with 3rd Degree Arson following the December 9th fire.
Last week, fire crews were called to the diner after flames broke out overnight. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office has been investigating the cause of the fire, and determined Ellis was responsible for starting it.
Ellis turned himself in Tuesday morning. The Sheriff's office used witness testimony and surveillance footage in the investigation.
"Surveillance video showed Mr. Ellis was at the diner the night of the fire and once he left we had visible smoke within 10-15 minutes after," said Captain Richard Telford.
The Sheriff's Office did not release information on how the fire was started, but authorities believe they know why.
I walked around the debris left at the Mayville diner with my Go Pro. pic.twitter.com/u0ldEi00rY— Taylor Epps (@taylor_epps_) December 10, 2019
"Mr. Ellis and the Diner were struggling financially and we believe that was the reason he set the fire," said Captain Telford.
The community is working to move forward.
"I think all we can do as a community is be here for each other, support one another," said Shannon Kresek, who waitressed at the diner for four years.
"I'm just grateful to have been apart of such a staple in such a small town," said Kresek, who even had her wedding at the diner. "t was really a blessing to be able to say I worked at the Mayville Diner."
Ellis was arrested and arraigned. He'll appear in court at a later date.