Support pours in for popular Lake County restaurant destroyed in blaze

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LAKE COUNTY, Fla. —

A popular Lake County restaurant won't be opening back up anytime soon after a fire damaged the building, but that's not stopping residents from showing their support.

Channel 9 was at Vic's Embers Supper Club on Highway 441 in Leesburg as firefighters battled the flames the day after Christmas.

The owner said on Friday the community is helping his staff stay on their feet while they slowly rebuild the restaurant.

The fire started in the kitchen, destroying just about everything. The owner said it's going to take months to rebuild but Channel 9 learned employees will get back on their feet a whole lot sooner.

Carolyn Hall had waited tables at the restaurant for more than a decade.

"I've been here for 14 years for the simple reason it's a great restaurant," she said.

Officials said a faulty light sparked the fire inside the spice pantry. Owner Vic Donahey showed Channel 9 how flames destroyed what his family built 25 years ago.

"I've never been through something like this," he said. "You don't ever think it would happen to you."

But as fast as disaster struck, help for his staff poured in. Donahey has received hundreds of dollars in donations for his employees, and other restaurants have offered them jobs until he's able to rebuild.

It could take up to eight months, but the staff said they'll be back.

"Oh, I'll be here. The man has already told me I best be here," said Hall.

An employee fish fry fundraiser is scheduled for Jan. 17 at the Leesburg Boat Club from 4 to 8 p.m.