Lehigh Valley

Youell's Oyster House in Allentown goes up in flames

5 firefighters hurt battling blaze

Landmark restaurant goes up in flames; 5 firefighters hurt

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A business that has been serving the community for more than 100 years has been destroyed by fire, and several firefighters were injured.

The fire broke out around 4:15 a.m. Tuesday at Youell's Oyster House at 23rd and Walnut streets.

Five firefighters were injured while fighting the flames, but they were later released from the hospital, and one even came back to fight the fire, however, 107 years of history is now up in smoke.

Images: Fire at Youell's Oyster House

"It's sad, very sad. It was a great old place," said customer Margie Adams.

Youell's Oyster House is now just a burned-out shell.

"The structural integrity is completely compromised due to the fire and tons of water we've dumped on it already," said Capt. John Christopher, Allentown Fire Dept.

Fire investigators checked the structural integrity of nearby homes and found them to be undamaged, but two families who lived in the twin home next door were evacuated while crews planned to demolish what was left of the burnt building.

Youell's owner, Christian Filipos, told 69 News he does plan to reopen the restaurant, but he's not sure whether it'll be at the original location or somewhere else.

Throughout the morning, crews not only battled the blaze inside the building but the freezing temperatures outside. Water used to contain the fire quickly froze.

Aerial video: Fire at Youell's Oyster House

"The weather played a bit of a role. Had one injury due to ice," Christopher said.

The real damage, however, may be measured through memories. The Oyster House built up a loyal customer base over the years.

Fred Sack could only watch as the place he's been coming to two to three times a week for 10 years was reduced to rubble.

"The camaraderie is unbelievable with the regulars that come in all the time. This is a real loss for the city," Sack said.

"It's just a place where you walk in and always feel like home," said customer Jennifer Peters. "It's sad. [The restaurant] was part of Allentown's history and to see it gone now, it's sad to see that memory gone."

Tim Plant, an 8-year chef at the restaurant who worked Monday night, found himself out of work Tuesday morning.

"I got the day off the hard way," he said.

Youell's first opened in 1905 in Easton and moved to the Allentown location in 1992, but the building has been around since the 1800s.

Investigators have not been able to determine how or where the fire started, saying that they expect it to be a very complex investigation.

The American Red Cross provided hot drinks, water and snacks to the emergency responders at the scene.

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