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Part of Fernwood Resort Destroyed by Large Fire

MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Part of an old and well-known resort went up in flames Sunday night in Monroe County.

The fire destroyed part of the old Fernwood complex just outside of East Stroudsburg.

The first of three alarms at the old Fernwood in Middle Smithfield Township came in around 8 p.m. on Sunday, and right away, firefighters realized they had their hands full.

The fire started in the recreation building. The resort on the Monroe/Pike County line had been closed for years.

The fire chief believes the flames started in the gymnasium area and took off from there, destroying the arcade area and even damaging some of the old hotel rooms.

As the rubble smoldered Monday morning, 80-year-old Leroy Lewis came by to take a look.

"I said I couldn't believe it. My God, I couldn't believe it," said Lewis.

Lewis worked in Fernwood's maintenance department for 30 years, much of that time in and around the recreation building.

"We used to have boxing, fights, wrestling, and stuff like that, shows. You know, that's what we have."

Newswatch 16 was there for some of those famed Fernwood boxing matches, including one back in 2003.

The Sunday night fire at Fernwood destroyed the recreation building and wrecked everything in it, but it could not take away the decades and decades of memories.

"We had lots of children, lots of laughter."

Ann Grueiro is also a former Fernwood employee. She sold timeshares there for eight years. She said she misses her co-workers and all the guests who stayed there over the years.

Joe White from Milford drives by Fernwood most days on his way to work. He remembers the resort's glory days.

"It's a shame, a shame to see an old icon of a place up here, kind of fall to the wayside over the years," said White.

Fernwood might have been on its way back. A Buddhist group bought the old resort back in December for more than $2 million and intended to turn it into what the group called a "world peace center."

According to Bushkill Fire Chief Alex Dipaolo, 75 percent of one of the main buildings on the site is gone.

"We found heavy fire in the old gym area which extended into the arcade area and extended into the old hotel rooms," explained Chief Dipaolo.

No one was hurt, and there is no word on a cause.

A state police fire marshal has been called to investigate.

The chief calls the fire here at the old Fernwood suspicious, but he added that is only until all the other potential causes are ruled out.

Some roads around the fire scene were closed Sunday night and early Monday morning.