Eric Frein in Custody

Firefighters Battle Massive Fire at Damenti’s Restaurant

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.

The owners are struggling with what to do next.

6 comments

  • Unknown

    I’m sorry for you loss. I myself lost my restaurant a few years ago to fire. I was devastated but grateful it was not my home. Being in the business I know insurance is not cheap. I myself was under insured. I hope you get compensated and are able to rebuild and come back better thyen ever. Your loss is greater then mine of course with the loss of your home and a pet. GOOD LUCK!! GOD BLESS!!

  • Kay

    I would like to first start by sending my condolences to the McDonald family Damenti’s has been a part of my life for 50 years. But why I am going to comment is something that has struck me while I was watching as the fire reignited this morning. As I was standing there a women who drove up in her car with maybe her sister or daughter they got out and approached the fire scene they were with one of the fire departments called back to help as the firemen are working so very hard to do what they can to already a tragic incident a young gentlemen who I spoke to earlier a fireman with the department in charge was walking into the building this women and her sister/daughter were laughing and the blonde haired women shouted “Oh he is with this department now” and other things I chose not to type here. It looks as though they were members of one of the helping departments but I’m not sure but if that’s the case how ignorant can one be to say nasty things while these great gentleman and woman are risking their lives and families to save others assets. I don’t know much about emergency responders or their rules but the sister/daughter that was with this women looked no more than 15-16 years old so my question to that is how come she was attending a fire and not attending to her studies at school and why was a women who was just there to drive her daughter on a emergency scene that is now putting a bystander (herself) at risk and also a risk for the fireman doing their job they are trying to watch the building and do their job there not be babysitters as we’ll to make sure bystanders don’t go snooping or putting themselves In harms way. I know I made sure to respect their wishes and stay back to where they told me would be sufficient I didn’t just get out of my vehicle and walk right past the fireman and do what I wanted. Quite frankly I’m sorry to that women and her sister/daughter you should be HIGHLY ASHAMED of yourselves and the way you represent yourselves and other organizations. What happened to the days when organizations worked together as a second family and fun was fun and work was work period. Shame on you and the organization you represent disgraceful.

    • Henry J

      I agree that is very disrespectful. Reprimand should be taken to both those women and to the fireman they were directing the comments towards if tip my hat to you for what you do and I will give you this bit of information to you if you read this don’t sit back and let it go I would contact the proper authority and file harassment and slander and if you can afford to contact a lawyer. I can help with that I’m located in Drums.

  • Sue

    My condolences to the family and staff there. We had many good times there and one very special birthday gathering that will be remembered always. You are all in my prayers.

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