BUTLER TOWNSHIP -- Fire leaves a landmark restaurant in ruins. Investigations are looking for the cause of the late night fire in the Mountain Top area of Luzerne County that destroyed Damenti's restaurant.
What took decades to build, the fire destroyed in just hours. The first alarm at Damenti's Restaurant along Route 309 in Butler Township came in just before 11 p.m. Monday.
The business is owned by the McDonald family.
A friend came to do what he could to comfort the victims, and tell us about the loss they feel.
"It was their life. Their family, their kids, everybody grew up here. I can't tell you how much it meant to them. It was everything. It was everything they had," said Joe Gans.
The McDonalds owned the 100-year-old building and landmark restaurant for 36 years.
The fire chief believes the flames sparked in the kitchen area, and those flames had a head start on firefighters.
"We had heavy fire in the rear of the building, extending up through the roof area," said Valley Regional Fire Chief Rich Bognar.
The chief says the McDonalds got out safely.
The fire chief says simply getting water on the fire was a major challenge. They pulled water out of a nearby creek, and tankers went two miles to a business park down the road to pull water out of a hydrant.
Firefighters from Luzerne and Schuylkill Counties were there. They could not save Damenti's.
That family friend adds the fire leaves a big hole in their lives, and the community.
"It was a great place to be, the dogs, the family, the camaraderie," Gans added. "I can't speak more highly of the place."
Gans tells us about a dozen people worked there. The overnight fire leaves them out of a job.