PIKESVILLE, Md. (WJZ) —  A three-alarm fire broke out in Pikesville early Wednesday morning, destroying a neighborhood restaurant many described as a mainstay of the community.

Flames engulfed Jilly’s Bar and Grill on Reisterstown Road early Wednesday morning, leading to a partial collapse of the building.

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A passerby called the fire in around 4 a.m. and within minutes the Pikeville Fire Department and other local volunteer fire departments arrived to find heavy fire showing from the bar. Baltimore City Fire crews and the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the call.

The fire led to a significant collapse of the building. A bulldozer arrived around 10 a.m. to knock down the building so crews could get to the deep-seated fire in the building.

Bartender Melissa Gumenick said it was difficult to watch the walls come down.

“It’s so hard to see them take down these walls because each time they do it feels like they’re taking a piece of my heart,” she said.

Employees like Carlos Garcia of 15 years were left speechless.

“It’s just so sad,” Garcia said.

As crews worked to battle the blaze all morning long, roads remained closed from Church Lane to Hawthorne Avenue.

Firefighters were also stationed to protect nearby buildings.

Officials said due to a two-foot space, there was no fire damage to the building next door but there is potential smoke damage.

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The restaurant’s owner Will Reich told WJZ he received an alert for an alarm sounding due to a window break-in just before 4 a.m.

Around the same time, Baltimore County Fire received word of the fire.

According to Lt. Travis Francis, a second and third alarm were called shortly before 4:30 a.m. due to the bulk of the fire and the fact that it was spreading to the other adjacent buildings.

Francis said they have to assume many of the buildings to the left of Jilly’s are going to have smoke and water damage. The restaurant directly connected to Jilly’s partially collapsed.

Now those behind the family-run restaurant of 45 years are left to pick up the pieces.

Reich showed WJZ pictures of the restaurant when it first opened and was known as Rodger’s. When his family bought it, they renamed it after his wife Jill.

“It’s going to be so sorely missed in Pikesville. It’s incredible,” he said.

“It’s the heartbeat of the community, it really is,” Pikesville resident Sara Garcia said. “It’s the heartbeat of Pikesville.”

Officials said no one was inside the building at the time and no injuries were reported.

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Fire investigators are looking into what caused the blaze.