Michael Evans had his cell phone set on "vibrate" while he drove to work last Wednesday, so he missed all the calls from friends and Uptown business owners who tried to tell him his pizzeria was on fire.

Michael Evans had his cell phone set on "vibrate" while he drove to work last Wednesday, so he missed all the calls from friends and Uptown business owners who tried to tell him his pizzeria was on fire.

"I got about two blocks from the restaurant and saw the fire trucks. When I got there, I was in shock," Evans said. "It looks like a bomb went off. The kitchen is totally shot, and there are holes in places where (firefighters) had to let the smoke out. Everything's black. The whole thing's black."

Firefighters responded at 10:01 a.m. Oct. 22 to calls that smoke was wafting from Michael's Pizza, 15 E. College Ave.

Battalion Chief John Bokros said the blaze was already out when firefighters arrived.

"There was no visible fire when we entered the building. It appeared that it had burned for a while," Bokros said.

He said the incident is listed as an open fire under investigation.

"This was not listed as suspicious. It was probably some type of electrical malfunction," Bokros said. "There were two devices in (the area where fire originated). A compressor could have been the device that caused the fire, but we don't have the equipment to identify specifically which piece failed."

Evans said his pizzeria has been operating in Uptown for about five years.

The business made local history in 2006, when Michael's Pizza sold the first legal bottle of beer in Westerville's historic Uptown district in more than 72 years.

Evans said the fire brought on a very physical response.

"My pulse, my heart rate was getting pretty high," he said. "The medics tried to make me go to the hospital, but I wasn't going to."

Evans said he's not yet sure what the monetary damages are, only that he invested about $100,000 in the facility when it opened.

"If anything's repairable, I don't know. I've heard from the Board of Health that some things, even if they're cleaned up, they can't be used," he said.

Although the fire destroyed the business, Evans said he's not going to let that stop him. He plans to rebuild.

"The building's pretty much OK, it's all brick. It's probably going to be a good month or more before we get back to reopening. I'm hoping that it's just a month," he said.

Updates on the rebuilding of Michael's Pizza will be available online at www.pizzamike.com.

lrice@thisweeknews.com