On the evening of Monday, March 17, the mountain lost one of its most iconic gathering places, and a family lost their home.
Approximately 100 firefighters from Luzerne, Carbon and Schuylkill counties battled the fire that engulfed Damenti’s Restaurant in Butler Township around 11pm. The restaurant, known across the area for its ice and sand bars, garden grown ingredients and floral arrangements, has been in business for over half a century and was a regular hang out for many Mountaintop residents.
Firefighters were called to the scene near 11pm and arrived to see flames, some up to 60 feet in the air, coming from the rear of the building where the kitchen was located. Valley Regional Fire Chief, Rich Bognar reported the fire was very intense, and the rear roof over the bar and kitchen had collapsed, preventing any firefighters from entering the building. It took several hours to bring the fire under control.
The firefighters were staged at the Can Do Corporate Center and Sand Springs golf community as numerous tanker trucks transported water from nearby ponds and creeks. No hydrants are located near the restaurant, although one hydrant was able to be accessed in neighboring Wright Township. Route 309 was closed near the restaurant from Interstate 80 and PennDOT salted the immediate area to keep water from freezing on the roads in the below freezing temperatures. According to reports, the fire was under control by 3:30am and was out by 5am, although firefighters returned to the restaurant several hours later after the fire rekindled.
A state police fire marshal was called in to investigate the cause.
Owners Kevin and Helen McDonald lived on the second floor of the building. It was not immediately clear if there was anyone inside the building, but luckily nobody was
See Fire page 4