Massive fire destroys former Hook's restaurant

Firefighters responded to the scene at Wharncliffe Road and Southdale Road in London's south end.

The popular restaurant operated for decades until it was closed in 2010

Firefighters dig through the rubble at the former Hook's Restaurant Wednesday morning, looking for hot spots. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

A London landmark was destroyed by fire Tuesday night. 

Approximately 35  firefighters fought the blaze in London's south end at Wharncliffe Road and Southdale Road.

All that remains of Hook's restaurant is rubble after a Tuesday evening fire. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)

The fire broke out around 5:30 p.m. and black smoke could be seen billowing from the building throughout much of London. 

Firefighters were at the scene until 4 a.m. Tuesday, took a break and then were back to battle hot spots at 6 a.m. Wednesday.

"Last night we had an excavator in to try to get at the seed of the fire," said Deputy fire chief Jack Burt on Wednesday morning. 

"It was a very stubborn fire for us to get at. It was a very old building, from 1931, a lot of dry wood, some additions on the inside...when that stuff caves in on the fire it traps the heat and allows the fire to propagate."

The blaze sent onlookers to the scene. 

Said Youssef, manager of Golden Lake Fish and Chips restaurant across the street, said the fire was massive.

"All I'm seeing is dark smoke," said Youssef.

Randy Gallen use to work at Hook's until it closed. He came to see the damage Wednesday night. 

"It was a good place to work," Gallen said. 

"This is a mess. There's nothing left of it. You only have memories about the place now. People 20 years from now won't even notice that this building was here." 
Fire at Warncliffe and Southdale Road (Paula Duhatschek)

Because there's nothing left of the building, the Ontario Fire Marshall is unlikely to investigate. London police officers were at the scene this morning and are working with firefighters to determine to cause of the fire. 

No one was in the building at the time of the fire. It was vacant and and under construction.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Nearby Tiger Jack's Bar and Grill was not affected by the fire. 

Rubble is all that remains at Hook's restaurant on Wharncliffe and Southdale after a massive blaze in the vacant building on Tuesday night. (Kate Dubinski/CBC News)