Flames, Smoke Pour From Popular Area Diner

Fire burned through a popular area diner this morning sending thick smoke into the hot summer air.

Flames broke out just as employees served the first diners of the day a little before 6:45 a.m. at Nifty Fifty’s on Street Road in Bensalem, Pa.

A Vine posted by Glendaamichelle shows thick smoke rising from the scene. Other photos posted to social media sites showed heavy damage to the 1950s-themed restaurant.

Employees said they first spotted smoke coming from a ceiling fan.

"The employees actually tried to put it out but once it's up in the ceiling it spread right through the roof," said co-owner Leo McGlynn.

Two alarms responded to the fire as firefighters battled not only the flames but morning temperatures already in the 80s. Bensalem firefighters needed to shuttle in and out of the shade to stay cool.

A side-by-side comparison shows what Nifty Fifty's in Bensalem, Pa. looked like before and after the July 19, 2013 blaze.

Dispatchers said that there were no reports of injuries.

This is one of five area Nifty Fifty's. According to federal prosecutors, the local chain's owners, Robert Mattei and McGlynn, pleaded guilty last year in the weeks after they and three others were charged in a tax evasion case and are awaiting sentencing.

Investigators say the owners conspired with two employees -- Joseph Donnelly and and Brian Welsh -- and accountant (and Mattei's daughter) Elena Ruiz to keep cash from customers without reporting it as income -- keeping millions from the government in the process. All the co-defendants also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.

Street Road was closed from Mechanicsville Road to Knights Road as firefighters battled the flames.

The fire appeared out around 8:15 a.m. The charred remains of the building continued to smolder however. Fifteen minutes later firefighter officially declared the blaze under control

No cause was given for the blaze. And McGlynn says he plans to rebuild.

The Nifty Fifty's blaze came on the same morning that fire broke out at another nearby Bucks County diner. Overnight firefighters put out a blaze at Maryanne's Diner in Croydon. Investigators believe the fire may have started in an outdoor storage shed and its being investigated as suspicious.

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