BEACH LAKE – The flames coming from Joe’s Ranch House in Beach Lake quickly tore through the newly renovated restaurant and apartments along Route 652 in Wayne County.
Hours later, owner Joe Krempasky sifted through the aftermath as current and former employees looked on in disbelief.
“It was just such a beautiful place. I couldn`t even like tell you how beautiful it was inside. Joe did so much work in there, and that I think is the hardest thing for me,” said Mary Williams, a former employee.
Fire crews said it’s a total loss. Carol Wingert’s daughter Kristen lived in what’s left of this apartment. Carol snapped a photo as fire crews battled the blaze. She believes it’s an image of the face of Jesus right outside her daughter’s apartment. Carol was also amazed that the only thing inside that wasn’t damaged was a Bible.
“Absolutely, I mean she`s blessed. Everybody here is blessed, and we`re blessed that we didn`t lose any firefighters or anything. The fire was huge,” said Carol Wingert of Narrowsburg, New York.
Investigators are still looking into what started the fire but they said it began back in the office area. The owner said one thing`s for sure, he won`t be rebuilding.
“Everybody thought it was really special, so did I. I built it for me, and I wouldn`t have the heart to try again,” said Krempasky.
Krempansy estimates that he spent more than $700,000 dollars renovating Joe’s Ranch House. He hoped to make it a retirement get-away and a place people in Wayne County could enjoy.
“He believed in this and he believed in building it better and better, and he was for his customers and it`s sad, it`s sad. I know it brought tears to his eyes, and some of his patrons and friends the same,” said Rich Avery of Beach Lake.
The fire leaves more than a dozen people without a job, but many in Beach Lake said they’re just thankful no one was hurt.