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Fire chief responds to own fire in Sayre

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Fire chief responds to own fire in Sayre
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It's the job of a firefighter to respond to emergencies and help the community. But it's a different feeling when the firefighter responds to flames on his own property. That's what happened at a well-known restaurant in Sayre Tuesday. Our Katie Husband tells us about a local chief that saw destruction from a different perspective and is determined to overcome it.

SAYRE, Pa. -- A fire burned through a popular pizza shop on Keystone Avenue early Tuesday morning.

"One of the great irony's here is that the guy who owns the business, Howie's Pizza, is also the fire chief in Waverly, New York," said Sayre Fire Chief Tom Yonkin.

Like all firefighters on the scene, owner and Fire Chief Don Howard got the call around 1:30 in the morning.

"My pager went off at home and it came over as a mutual aid to Sayre for a construction fire, ok, it's my everyday job, second job that I do and then it came over as the name of my restaurant," said Don Howard, owner of Howie's Pizza and Subs and Waverly Fire Chief.

His reaction?

"I fell to the floor. My wife was in bed still and she asked what happened and I said, our restaurant is on fire," said Howard.

The support from the community rang out.

"And then I got numerous phone calls from PD and stuff. Because we're all a close-knit family down here," said Howard.

When Howard arrived on the scene, he passed his commanding duties to the next man in line to comprehend what was happening.

"And I became a bystander and it's a different feeling," said Howard.

Howard says he's concerned about one crucial thing for his employees now that the holidays are approaching.

"I've got 22 plus employees and it's holiday time. We've got Thanksgiving and obviously Christmas and now, I don't know, I've never had to go through this as a business owner. I've done it on the other end as a fire chief, but never as a business owner," said Howard.

For people who know Howard, they say he always thinks of other people first.

"That's the kind of guy that Donnie Howard is," said Yonkin.

Howard says he plans on rebuilding the community staple.

The fire started in the back of the building. Firefighters say the cause is still under investigation.

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