Western New Jersey

Community wants to help restaurant rebuild after fire

Community wants to help restaurant rebuild after fire

FRANKLIN TWP., N.J. - Investigators in Warren County, New Jersey, are trying to figure out what sparked a fire that destroyed a building that's been around since the 1800s.

The flames broke out Monday morning at Hunter's Tavern, a restaurant in Franklin Township.

Some in the community say if you needed to hold a fundraiser, you did it at Hunter's Tavern because the owners care so much for the community.

"People call this the 'Cheers' of the neighborhood," said Susan DeVoe, a longtime customer. "So it's really going to hurt for a lot of the people here."

Now the place where owner Jim and Sarah Hunter knew everyone's name is no more.

The early morning fire damaged three floors at Hunter's Tavern, including the bar and some seating areas.

"It's very discouraging after we just left here and locked up last night at 10:30," added manager Eddie Frank. "To have to come back to this."

Investigators say seven different fire companies and eight tanker trucks responded to the fire around 3:20 a.m.

Two firefighters were injured, and transported to a local hospital.

Much of the day Monday, members of the New Jersey State Police Arson and Bomb Unit searched to find the cause of the fire.

"They're just wonderful people and it's just really devastating to see this because they gave back so much," said DeVoe.

Community members have been showing support for owner Jim Hunter on Facebook.

Hunter, still too devastated to speak on camera, received a lot of hugs, and spoke with investigators.

People in Franklin Township say Hunter's Tavern was the place for community fundraisers, because the family is always willing to lend a helping hand to others.

"We have a child who is going blind, and he has been, the family has been so supportive," said Mark DeVoe. "Giving back 10 percent of meals to our foundation to help find a cure."

Now the person who has helped the community, needs a little help himself.

Employees and the members of the community say they will step up to the plate.

"We're here for him, regardless, we'll rebuild and come back," said Frank.

One of the firefighters suffered an ankle injury, and the other smoke inhalation.
So far there is no word if they have been released from the hospital.

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