FLUSHING - Sharon Barto is not sure what to do after a Monday fire destroyed the Village Restaurant that she operated on Main Street for the past five years.
"I smelled something that smelled like a candle burning. We then saw the flames and called 911," said Barto as she watched flames and smoke engulf her business Monday afternoon.
"I was able to run back in to get my purse and cash register, but we had to get out after that.
Firefighters from across Eastern Ohio battle a blaze at the Village Restaurant in Flushing Monday afternoon.
"We were just getting ready to clean up for the day," she continued. "Now, I guess I'll just be driving by an old burned-out building for awhile."
Firefighters from across Belmont and Harrison counties - including those from departments in Flushing, Bethesda, Lafferty, Smith Township, Holloway, Piedmont, Cadiz, New Athens, Barnesville, Cumberland Trail (St. Clairsville) and others - responded to the fire scene, which led to the temporary closure of Ohio 331. Firefighters dumped a deluge of water on the structure from four ladder trucks, with others pumping water into the restaurant from the ground.
"We have a lot of good help here today," said Flushing Fire Chief Jerry Murphy, noting no one was injured because of the fire. "This building is a total loss, but we are trying to keep it away from the adjacent buildings."
Murphy said the fire was of unknown origin, noting Barto reported the blaze after smelling the smoke.
Though she did not know the precise age of the structure, Barto said the restaurant dates back to "at least the 1940s."
"It's one of the oldest, if not the oldest, buildings in town," she said. "It's just really hard to stand here and watch my place burn down."
The blaze attracted a crowd of onlookers, many of whom expressed sorrow in watching Flushing's only sit-down restaurant burn.
"I worked there for a time when I was 16," said Flushing resident Rhonda Sutton. "It's just a really sad thing to see."
"In a small town, this is our only restaurant," added resident Cindy Schnitzlein. "I hate to see it go, especially like this."