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Fire Tears Through Monroe County Landmark

EAST STROUDSBURG -- A state police fire marshal is looking for the cause a fire in Monroe County that destroyed a well-known watering hole.

Flames wrecked the CLU Club in East Stroudsburg around 1 a.m. Monday.

The CLU Club began decades ago as the Central Labor Union Club, a social club for union members. Membership was later opened to everyone. Now, it's just a pile of rubble.

The first alarm at the CLU Club on South Courtland Street in East Stroudsburg came in just before 1 a.m. Monday.

Mike Collaro tends bar just a couple of doors away. He says the fire took off fast.

"All you saw was a bunch of smoke, hearing glass break in the windows, then all of a sudden, you started seeing the flames," Collaro recalled.

"The first time I came out, it was a bunch of black smoke, smoke coming out. I went back in and came out, and the house was ablaze," said Jerica Mortimer.

Firefighters from East Stroudsburg quickly called in help from nearby communities.

A passerby on South Courtland Street noticed the place on fire and he called in the alarm. Right from the beginning, firefighters knew they had their hands full with this one.

The fire chief lives just a block away. He saw the flames before he left home.

"We had heavy black smoke pouring from the left side of the structure, pretty much already working when we arrived on scene," said East Stroudsburg Fire Chief Dale Fetterly.

Chief Fetterly tells Newswatch 16 the flames apparently got their start in the bar area. They jumped to the social hall next door.

It is that social hall, available for rent, that contains so many memories.

Dana Morris had her wedding reception here six years ago.

"It's a little heartbreaking to see it go up in flames because I know a lot of other people had parties there and everything else and it's just sad."

By daybreak, you could see the damage. The walls still stand. The roof of the bar area and the roof of the social hall are both gone.

Diane Fisher came to take a look. She recently paid her dues for her 25th year as a CLU Club member.

"I cried because I love the club and it's a very sad day."

Firefighters believe the building is a total loss, and the CLU Club, at least in this form, is gone.

One firefighter suffered a minor injury. The chief says he should be OK.

The cause has not been determined.