ORWIGBURG, Pa. -

Investigators are trying to determine what sparked a fire that ripped through a popular restaurant overnight.

A Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal spent Monday assessing the damage done to Madeline's Restaurant on East Market Street in Orwigsburg, Schuylkill Co.

At the same time, the owner and employees gathered in disbelief outside the restaurant, which was known around the region as a place "where friends gather."

"It's a good place to work. It was a good place and a good environment," said Melissa Shappell, a hostess and manager at the restaurant.

"People here were great. The food was great. I always felt comfortable here," said John Cook, who often visits the local spot. "What I thought to myself was it's one of the best places in the area, and now it's gone."

Multiple fire companies were called Sunday night after an automatic fire alarm sounded at the restaurant. Tankers were called in for water supply, and crews were able to bring the fire under control in about an hour's time, said officials.

"There's extensive fire damage, also heat and water damage," said 2nd Asst. Chief Chris Fessler, Orwigsburg Fire Dept. "We had one firefighter that was examined by EMS and was transported to the hospital, and I understand he's been released."

The building has been in Orwigsburg since the early 1920s. It was once a hotel, then converted into a restaurant. It's been operating under the name Madeline's for the past five years.

Now, the second-story windows are broken, and pieces of the structure are hanging on by a thread.

"It's a shame. It's people's livelihoods," said Cook.

The owner and general manager spent the day standing by the caution tape that surrounds the building. The general manager believed the damage is confined to the front corner of the restaurant.

"As soon as we can, we're going to start rebuilding, and we will be back up and ready to service our customers as soon as possible," said Jerry Blecker, the restaurant's general manager.