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Athens, Ont. family diner forced to close due to electrical fire

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A family in Athens, Ont. is working to rebuild their business after a recent fire forced them to close down, putting 13 people out of work – Oct 8, 2021

For JJ’s Country Diner owners Joanne and John Edgley, it’s been just over a week since an electric fire in their Athens family restaurant forced them to close down.

“We were both in bed, we live in the back with our son and our dog,” says Joanne. “And we heard a loud, persistent banging on our door – someone that was obviously really determined to get our attention.”

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That banging was an employee working to get their attention. They had arrived for their morning shift around 6:45 a.m. to discover smoke in the building and fire alarms chiming.

“Throughout the whole restaurant – in the ceiling, all of our furniture, all of our equipment. Everything has that horrid, burnt smell,” says Joanne.

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She says that she and her son were inside the house trying to grab everything they could, from car keys to purses and clothes.

“The whole time I was doing it, I could smell that awful smell of the smoke in our living quarters,” she says.

But still, they were lucky. The Athens Fire Department informed the pair that having their office door closed saved the situation from being much worse.

“Because (Joanne) has her office door closed, it saved the building,” says John.

Firefighters told the Edgleys to let everyone know to close their bedroom doors at night, as it could save your life if you ever have a fire.

While they work to begin rebuilding, a GoFundMe has seen many community members chipping in to support the business.

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Still, John and Joanne worry for more than their own well-being.

“It’s not just us that we have to worry about, it’s our 11 staff members that we’re also worried about. Because they’re going to be out of a job,” says Joanne.

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“There’s so many places looking for help, we could end up losing all of our staff,” John continues. “Because they have to take care of themselves.”

JJ’s Country Diner is currently in a tear-down phase and the Edgleys say that they anticipate many months of work ahead before a safe reopening.

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