DANVILLE — A state police fire marshal says there is too much damage to determine what caused the fire Sunday night at BJ’s Steak and Rib House in Danville.
He says the fire started in an upstairs office, but it is not suspicious.
The restaurant’s owner says he plans to rebuild.
BJ’s Steak and Rib House in Danville was known for its smoked baby back ribs and specialty prepared steaks…up until last night.
The landmark restaurant has been a fixture on Mill Street since 1982.
Owner Bob Kirkpatrick was at home when he found out his restaurant was on fire.
“What was going through your mind? The worst. And it is the worst because the building appears to be a total loss,” Kirkpatrick said.
A state police fire marshal believes the fire started in an upstairs office, but says there is too much damage to figure out what caused it.
Kirkpatrick says 15 customers and eight employees were inside the restaurant at the time. They all got out safely.
Newswatch 16 spoke to several employees who were here working Sunday. Some of them are already applying for new jobs. They say they are in shock and heartbroken.
“24 hours ago we were just here and we opened the upstairs and filled all the salts and stuff and it’s just…seeing it now is just completely mind-blowing,” Jenna Kashner said.
Other employees say they were working Sunday morning, and were devastated when they found out the restaurant caught fire just hours later.
“It’s crazy. I worked here for like two years and this is like my second family,” Abbey Nebrotski said.
Kirkpatrick says even though he has another restaurant in Selinsgrove, he plans to rebuild this one.
“We like doing business in Danville. We have a good customer base in Danville. We plan to stay here. I don’t know if we’re going to be building in the same spot or what, but we’re going to be staying in business,” Kirkpatrick said.
Smoke and flames spread to buildings next door, including an office building occupied by about 100 employees of Geisinger Medical Center. They should be back in the office Tuesday.
The owner of BJ’s says 45 employees worked here in this restaurant. He advised them to file for unemployment.