Fire damaged Marino's Restaurant in Torrington Thursday morning and officials said the roof started to collapse as firefighters were battling the flames.
The fire was reported just before 9 a.m. and the owner was inside at the time and was able to get out, officials said.
Firefighters initially went inside to fight the fire but decided to the fight the fire from outside when the roof started to collapse.
The fire was under control by 9:36 a.m., according to the fire department. The building, built in 1937, has extensive fire and water damage. They said no other buildings were damaged.
One firefighter was treated and released from the hospital.
The sight of the fire was surreal for folks who pulled over while passing by during their morning commute.
“It was frigid this morning, but not standing right there it wasn’t. It was hot,” said a man named Craig, who asked we didn’t provide his last name. “You could feel the heat from 200 feet away.” He says he watched as the roof of the building collapsed.
Diana Neshko has lived in Torrington for 45 years. She lives right down the road from the restaurant, “We have our meeting and then we have a lovely lunch and the food has always been great. Never had a bad meal there. Never.”
She meets with retired teachers there three times a year and feels terrible for the second-generation owners.
“They’ve been working at it since they were kids.”
Just this weekend, the animal welfare nonprofit “For the Love of Jack” once again held their annual pasta dinner at the restaurant. They couldn’t believe the destruction.
“They give back to their community in ways I can’t even begin to explain to you, They’re my friends on a personal level, but what they do to for their community. They’re a pillar in the community,” said Sherrie Gioia, president of For the Love of Jack.
The nonprofit president says restaurant opened specially for them Sunday. She hopes the Marino family knows that the community has their back after all they’ve done for Torrington and beyond.
The investigation into a cause continues.
Local and state fire marshals are investigating the cause of the fire.