Nfld. & Labrador

Badger Diner's owners 'devastated, heartbroken' after eatery destroyed by fire

A favourite stop for many cross-island drivers was destroyed by fire Sunday night.

Popular dining spot a total loss

The 35-year-old building was destroyed within hours. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

The long-time owner of a diner in Badger says she is 'heartbroken' and 'devastated' at the sight of her business reduced to rubble on the side of the Trans-Canada Highway. 

Charred wood and other items burned beyond recognition are all that is left of the favourite stop for many cross-island drivers, after it was ravaged by fire Sunday night.

Fire crews were called to the Badger Diner, a 35-year-old restaurant around 8:30 p.m. By midnight the diner was completely destroyed, and fire crews finally left around 1:30 a.m.

Fire crews responding to a fire at the Badger Diner Sunday night. (Twitter/@deerlakefire)

"I'm devastated. I'm heartbroken," said Lillian Saunders, who owned the business with her husband Frank. 

"Over the period of 35 years, every piece that we added on, my sons and my husband built it. And we put our heart and our soul into it, and we lived it. We lived that business."

We put our heart and soul into it.- Lillian Saunders

Saunders said she was in the building on Sunday night when she noticed a fire in the back room of the restaurant. She escaped the burning building, taking a vase and an ornament given to her by her mother and father.

"I can't even tell you what I actually feel, like I really can't tell you, like I'm just so devastated and I'm upset."

Saunders said she only had moments to take a few belongings as she fled the burning building. She picked gifts from her parents, but left the keys to her car, which was stuck in front of the restaurant's burned-out shell on Monday.

Lillian Saunders said she and her husband have owned the Badger Diner for 35 years. (Garrett Barry/CBC)

"I just want to thank the customers that supported me over the years. That's all I got to say, I'm very glad for the ones that supported me. And I'm glad that, you know, I'm thankful for the staff I have. I don't know what else to say."

Fire crews were called back around 6 a.m when a hot spot flared up and began burning again.

It's still not clear how the fire started, but the building has been deemed a complete loss. Saunders said she has contacted her insurance company, but isn't sure if the diner will be rebuilt.

"It's not only about my family, I got staff that I really care about," she said. "We're a bunch of seniors working together, and we enjoy our work together."

"And we all get along good, and I don't know what's going to happen to them. And that hurts too."

Police remained on scene on Monday morning. 

With files from Terry Roberts