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'It's a neighbourhood institution:' Fire rips through Detroit Eatery on the Danforth

Last Updated Jan 22, 2019 at 7:39 pm EDT

It’s been described by regulars as an “institution” and a “safe place” often frequented by NHL stars and rock legends like the late Gord Downie and Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy.

On Tuesday, after more than 60 years in business, the Detroit Eatery on the Danforth was destroyed by flames.

It took several hours for firefighters to gain control of the stubborn four-alarm fire that tore through the popular hangout at Danforth and Chester avenues.

Crews were called to the scene around 6:45 a.m. on Tuesday. It’s believed the fire started in the basement, but a cause hasn’t yet been determined.

Damage is pegged at around $500,000.

But for regulars, there’s no price tag for the memorabilia and mementos that peppered the walls. All that’s left are memories.

“It’s a neighbourhood institution,” one teary-eyed regular said. “It’s more than that. It’s the whole community. It’s our clubhouse really.”

“It was a safe place for everybody,” another added.

Fire crews were able to stop the flames from spreading to adjoining businesses, but there is smoke and water damage to Becker’s Bridals next door.

“There was probably smoke migration and definitely water damage because a significant amount of water was used extinguishing the fire,” Toronto Fire Cmdr. Greg Weeks said at the scene.

At one point, firefighters tried to fight the fire through a hole in the floor. They later tried to tackle it through a window upstairs but that line froze because of the cold.

The cold was the major reason the fire escalated to a four-alarm. Toronto Fire had to cycle through crews so the firefighters could stay warm. Between 18 and 21 fire trucks attend four-alarm fires.

The building has apartments on the second floor, but crews went through the building and there were no reports of any injuries.