MACHIAS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A massive fire at one of Maine's most popular restaurants broke out early Friday morning, gutting the landmark business.
Crews arrived at the iconic Helen's Restaurant in Machias at around 1:45 a.m. It took firefighters hours to contain the fire, but not before the flames eventually destroyed the entire building.
"It was just homey," Claire Boulanger said. "It was like having something at home, good meals, the people were nice, the clientele and everything. It was wonderful."
The restaurant, built on over fifty years of home-cooked meals, quality service and their famous blueberry pie, was gone within a few hours.
State Fire investigators started excavation in the early afternoon, finding that the fire started under the floor. The building was too severely damaged to determine a cause.
"To think that I was supposed to work from 11 to close tonight and now it's gone," Rachael Kelley said, adding, "It's just crazy."
The restaurant served its loyal customers year after year. It also provided jobs for over 50 employees and brought tourists from across the country into the town.
"It doesn't just affect our restaurant, but it affects everyone else in the community," Kelley said. "We all live off from each other, so when 50 people don't have a job, it becomes a huge ordeal."
The restaurant's owner, David Barker, was optimistic about the future.
"We appreciate anyone that's ever stepped in the door of Helen's Restaurant," Barker said. "We have some wonderful customers locally and from away. Be patient, 'cause we're coming back."
The restaurant will not have to make the comeback alone. A crowdfunding page had already reached its goal of $10,000 for Helen's by Friday night with the help of more than a hundred donors. To donate to Helen's Restaurant, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/bddzng.