EAST RIDGE, TN. (WDEF-TV) - The Tennessee state fire marshal spent Thursday at the scene of a restaurant fire in East Ridge.
The building once housed the Hungry Fisherman and later Trip's Seafood.
It sits in the 67-hundred block of Ringgold Road, but now it's the scene of a possible homicide investigation.
East Ridge authorities at first counted it as just another abandoned building destroyed by fire of an unknown origin.
But when they began sifting through the ashes on Christmas afternoon they found reason to call-in state fire investigators.
VICKIE WILSON, VENDOR AT EAST RIDGE FLEA MKT. "There've been several times they've had to run people out....homeless people out. Afraid that this might happen."
The old restaurant building is behind the East Ridge flea market.
You can't see it from Ringgold Road, but almost everybody knew it was there.
It could be that someone used it for shelter on a bone-chilling night .
Almost 12 hours after the 3:30 blaze, police discovered the tragic consequences.
CPL. ROBIE WADE, EAST RIDGE POLICE DEPARTMENT "In the late afternoon,early evening...they discovered what they believe might be human remains. They have verified that they do think those are human remains...they have found there in the burned structure."
The state fire marshal was called and the area was sealed early Thursday and designated a crime scene.
Investigators began sifting through the debris and called in some heavy equipment to help.
Other agencies also joined the search.
CPL. ROBIE WADE "The state bomb and arson investigators are on scene and the Hamilton county medical examiners office."
The investigators have three primary goals: identify the body they've found, make sure there's no one else in the ashes, and determine how the blaze started.