As the smell of Old Bay seasoning combined with burning wood wafted through the air onlookers came to see for themselves what was left of Virginia Dare Marina and Beacon Pub restaurant after an early morning fire on Saturday.
"I woke up at 3 this morning and was going to call Bill [Thornton, Beacon Pub's manager] to see if he was going to show the Virginia Tech basketball game today," said one man who didn't give his name.
The fire was reported at 3:46 a.m., according to Billy Creasey of Bedford County Fire and Rescue. Crews from Huddleston, Saunders, Bedford and Smith Mountain Lake Marine Volunteer Fire Department responded about 10 minutes later to the scene and had the fire under control within an hour, Creasey said.
No injuries were reported, and there was no visible damage to any of the boats around the marina, including to the Virginia Dare cruise boat, although the fire did "spread through some of the decks," Creasey said.
The marina had recently opened Beacon Pub, an indoor, off-season eatery. According to a post on its Facebook page, the pub was open Friday night with live music.
Garret Meyer, one of the marina's new owners, said several people in the community already have offered to help rebuild the marina. "We've been answering phone calls all morning from people offering support," he said on Saturday morning.
Meyer and co-owner Darrin Main purchased the marina last March. Since that time they have made several improvements to the marina, including opening Beacon Pub last month.
The building was fully insured, Meyer said, and they plan to rebuild as soon as possible. "There is no question about that," he said.
While the fire destroyed the marina's main building that served as a restaurant and office, Meyer said tours on the Virginia Dare will continue. "None of that is going to change."
Because the fire was still smoldering on Saturday morning, Creasey said he was unable to tell what caused the fire.