Posted: 3:04 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14, 2013

Popular Wekiva Island bar destroyed in fire

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Wekiva Island restaurant fire photo
Firefighters fought a blaze at a popular dining and recreation area around the Wekiva River Monday.

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. —

A popular dining and recreation area on Wekiva River was destroyed in an early Monday morning fire, Seminole County authorities said.

The fire at the Wekiva Island beach bar burned the 2,000-square-foot structure to the ground at about 2:30 a.m. Monday. Investigators said a passing driver smelled smoke and found the restaurant on fire.

"We got a call about a structure fire this morning. When the crews arrived on scene, they found about a 2,000-square-foot bar-restaurant type structure 75 to 80 percent involved," said Lt. Todd Zellers of Seminole County Fire Rescue.

Within hours of the sun coming up workers were hauling dumpsters around the property, trying to get things cleaned up.

Owners Mary Weinaug and her husband said they have spent years renovating and reinventing the recreation area that sits on the Wekiva River.

"It's devastating. The building burned to the ground we don't know what happened," said Mary Weinaug.

They told Channel 9's Steve Barrett that their intention is to reopen the safe areas this weekend and continue renting canoes and the cabanas that are still standing.

The owners said they have a food truck that could substitute for the lost building, while they figure out what to do next.
Vendors who rent and sell products have already been streaming in to see how they can help get Wekiva Island back open as soon as possible.

"This is devastating to see this, because I just have a ton of great memories here, and the owners, Mary and Bill, are just fantastically awesome people," said neighboring business owner Ned Johnson.

The fire marshal finished the on-site investigation and said that preliminary indications are that something electrical could be the cause of the fire.

No one was in the building at the time of the fire and there were no injuries reported.

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