5 firefighters hurt in Allentown restaurant blaze

January 22, 2013 3:58:38 PM PST
Officials say five firefighters were hurt battling an early morning blaze at a historic restaurant in Allentown.

Action News was there as a large steel demolition claw finished the job that a fire began at about 4:00 a.m. Tuesday: the destruction of Youell's Oyster House, a landmark eatery.

"Flames were coming through the roof, there was a lot of smoke," said neighbor Tom Ruhe.

Fans of the restaurant say hungry patrons would sometimes wait outside in a line that snaked around the corner.

"We came here for New Year's Eve all the time with the kids," said Mary Susan Dolceamore. "It's a true family restaurant. It's part of our West End heritage."

By first light the end walls of the oldest portion of the building, thought to have been a 19th century stage coach stop, were still standing. But the roof had collapsed.

The stubborn blaze injured five firefighters:

"One with a lower leg injury, another a sprained ankle and another facial lacerations. That all happened from a wall collapse," said Allentown Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Lee Laubach.

Two others had minor burns. All were treated and released.

The fire's cause is under investigation. Early indications are it began on the first floor near, but not in, the kitchen.

Owner Christian Filipos hopes to rebuild if the city permits it. Employees are hopeful.

Blinking back tears, General Manager Melissa Makovsky told us she has worked most of her life here.

"I started here as 14-year-old busser, worked my way up," she said. "It's a great family restaurant. I could not have asked for a better place to work. I've worked here my entire life for the most part."