Charlottetown fire officials continue their investigation into a fire Monday night that gutted a city restaurant and sent the owner to hospital.

Firefighters were called to Byblos restaurant around 11 p.m.

When they arrived, they found thick smoke billowing from the business, located in a strip mall at Belvedere Avenue and Queen Street.

The owner, Charbel Jreij, was still inside, trapped inside the bathroom, and had to be rescued from the burning restaurant. He was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The extent of his injuries are not known.

Deputy fire chief Gary McGuigan said  it could take several days to determine the cause. He said investigators aren't sure, at this point, whether there was anything suspicious about the fire.

"Until we can determine that it's not, we will treat this as a crime scene, and so the dog is used to sniff out different accelerants that may or may not be in the building."

"It's a lot of fire damage. Obviously, into the ceiling, with the false ceiling in there. A lot of damage and a lot of water at this point," said Deputy Fire Chief Tim Mayme.

"Basically we'll let the smoke patterns and the burn patterns lead us to the direction. Hopefully we can find the room of origin or point of origin from that. We'll be looking at it hard over the next few days."

The restaurant was not open when the fire started.

About 60 firefighters responded to the call. Crews used an aerial ladder to get their hoses near the hot spots.

There was some smoke and water damage to adjoining businesses.

People stunned

Zara Bakhtiar, the restaurant's interior and exterior designer, said she can hardly bare to look at Byblos. 

"This morning, when I passed by Byblos, I just cried. I can't explain how I feel. It's just really upsetting," she said.

"Basically, Byblos was like my baby." 

David McInnis, owner of Peake & McInnis, owns an insurance company nearby.

"We've been lucky. It's smoke damage we've suffered. Hopefully tomorrow we'll be back up and going," said McInnis.