Mt. Vernon fire delivers blow to owner on Father's Day

A man who used his business to take care of his ill daughters suffered the loss of his diner to flames on Father's Day.

Fire officials say they got a call about the flames at Crystal's Luncheonette on S. 4th Avenue around 4:20 a.m. Firefighters said by the time they got there, the fire had spread to a check cashing business. Responders had to cut through iron gates to get inside the diner. Investigators believe an electrical short in a refrigerator caused the blaze.

A tearful Mohammad Alkyam assessed the damage of the landmark restaurant that was part of the community for more than 40 years. Alkyam bought the diner two months ago.

"I'm hoping insurance [will] reimburse me. [I'll] fix up the place, open the door and make a living," Alkyam said. He has two little girls in his native Jordan who are suffering from an advanced stage of cancer.

"I remember sitting on a stool. They had fountain drinks, custard. It's the last fixture around here on this avenue," longtime customer Roger Norman, of Mount Vernon, said.

A firefighter was injured battling the blaze.

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