Fire destroys Elkhorn restaurant that's been around since 1920s

WALWORTH CO. (WITI) -- Fire destroys a Walworth County restaurant that's been around since the 1920s. The fire started early Friday morning, September 5th at Abell's Restaurant and Lounge just north of Elkhorn. The blaze forced firefighters to shut down a stretch of Highway 12.

Linda Rosetti tells FOX6 News she spotted the flames around 5 a.m. while opening the gas station across the street.

"When I was driving down I saw a little bit of flame coming from the back side of the restaurant," Rosetti said.

Rosetti says she immediately ran across the street, concerned for the six people who lived above the bar in apartments.

"There was a couple of officers here, (I) wasn't sure if they knew there were families inside," Rosetti said.

Firefighters say there were a few people inside the structure at the time of the fire. They all made it out safely.

It didn't take long for Rosetti's brother, the gas station owner, to arrive on scene.

"When I came it was totally engulfed, and I got here about 5:20 a.m. All I could do is watch the fire department do their job,"Dennis Lockheart said.

Elkhorn Fire Chief Rod Smith tells FOX6 News the blaze caused an estimated $1 million in damage.

"It's so sad, it's so hard to take. But they'll rebuild. He's already looking forward," Rosetti said.

The Fire Chief says they believe the fire started in the kitchen. At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown; however officials say it doesn't appear suspicious.

Monitor FOX6 News and for updates on this developing story.