TABOR CITY, NC (WECT) - Employees of Dale's Seafood in Tabor City gathered around the restaurant Friday morning to see the damage from a fire that destroyed the building.
According to Chief Jerry Hodge with the Tabor City Fire Department, fire crews had the fire knocked down at approximately 5 a.m. but the restaurant's roof has caved in and is considered a "total loss."
All that's left of the restaurant is a gaping hole in the roof, charred remains, and water dripping from the ceiling onto empty chairs and tables.
Sue Tyson, the owner of Dale's Seafood, said it's because of her co-workers and the community she has hope that everything will be OK.
"You can't go but forward. I'm very positive," Tyson said as crews cleared what's left of her restaurant. "We take it one step at a time. We will get there."
Tyson's father, Dale, bought the land where the restaurant stands and sold it to Tyson for $1. She and her ex-husband built the restaurant from the ground up.
"Besides my children and my grandchild, this was my life," Sue said. "It's so easy how something can change in the blink of an eye. I feel like I'm letting my dad down but he was a businessman. He knows sometimes things happen like this."
The business founded in 1985 will be demolished and rebuilt in the same location, but the owner is worried about her employees finding jobs while the restaurant gets back on its feet.
Tyson thinks the fire could have started in the kitchen, though that has not been confirmed by fire investigators.
According to an incident report, a passerby told a clerk at a nearby gas station the restaurant was on fire shortly after 3:30 a.m. The clerk then contacted a Tabor City police officer, who responded to the restaurant.
Upon arriving, the officer spotted smoke coming from a vent on top of the roof and alerted the fire department.
Hodge said a firefighter was injured while battling flames, but is expected to be OK. No one was inside the restaurant when the fire started and no other injuries were reported.
The Loris Fire Department responded to the scene with a ladder truck. The Williams Township Community Fire Department and Roseland Volunteer Fire Department were also called to the scene.