LAKESIDE TAVERN Early-morning fire destroys bar

Police say the driver of the stolen pickup truck fled the scene.
LAKE MILTON -- Lakeside Tavern is gone and won't return.
"I'm too old to rebuild," Bob Probert, 72, said Monday outside his charred and boarded-up tavern at 17728 Mahoning Ave. "I've been here 23 years and it's been a bar for 50 years. I hadn't planned on retiring, but I'm just going to level it and sell the property."
The green "Lakeside Tavern" sign at the front of the gray wooden building hung askew Monday, melted from the fire's heat.
Lakeside, at the corner of Grandview Avenue, caught fire around 3 a.m. Monday when the driver of a pickup truck lost control and crashed into wood barriers in front of the building, said Milton Fire Chief Rick Pellin. The driver fled.
Milton Detective Sgt. John Bonish said the pickup truck was reported stolen Sunday night from Lake Milton. He didn't have the year and make of the truck. Bonish said police have a witness who saw the crash and the investigation is ongoing.
Chuck Hanni, an investigator with the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office, said the damage was extensive to the bar area, even though the pickup came to rest outside the building.
An elderly man who lives in an apartment above the tavern made it out safely. Pellin said the man uses oxygen and the tanks "were definitely a hazard for us."
Pellin estimated the damage, just to the building, not the contents, at $200,000. He said the business had been really nice inside, with pool tables.
Probert, of Diamond, said the place is a total loss, but he wasn't sure of the dollar amount. He said he remodeled 12 years ago.
He said he closed up the business around 10 p.m. Sunday.
"The Lakeside's been here forever," said Kay Alta of Deerfield, a patron of the popular bar. "Everyone in my family's been here. It's sad."
Alta said she was last at the tavern on Jan. 12 for her 26th birthday.

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