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SALISBURY - An early Sunday morning fire left a hole in the town of Salisbury and destroyed a building that has been standing for more than half a century.

Around 3:30a.m. crews from Salisbury, Keytesville, and Moberly responded to the fire and found flames coming through the roof of Linneman's Diner.

"It was an unsafe structure, so we went ahead and knocked down the walls," said Salisbury Fire Chief Jamie Cruse.

Cruse said the fire was put out around 6:30a.m.  The building was built in the 1950s as a diner and that's what it's been every since.  Cruse, a Salisbury native, said the building has stood at 306 E. U.S. Highway 24 for as long as he can remember.

"It'll be weird to drive by and not see it standing there," said Cruse.

It's another loss to a town that's already lost a lot.

"It's just another business that's gone in Salisbury.  Salisbury is dwindling everyday and looses businesses and sometimes gains a business.  It's just another loss for Salisbury.  It's kind of a sad sad situation, but there's not much anybody can do about it," said Cruse.

Some residents think it'll be another blow to the town's local economy.

"We got one other restaurant out on the highway, but they close up at two o'clock in the afternoon, and of course we have a couple uptown, but a lot of these traveling people won't know about it," said Melvard Dooley.

The diner also shared space with the Salisbury American Legion.  Dooley is one of the few active members left in the American Legion. He says losing the building is particularly hard for him and other American Legion Members.

"It's terrible.  It's terrible for me and one of the other guys - I talked to his wife just a while ago - and it's really working on him.  We've worked in there something terrible putting the roof on it," said Dooley.

He said he's not sure what the American Legion will do now.

"All we do anymore is have military funerals. In fact, we just had one about a week ago.  And now this has taken care of that we don't have any rifles or anything," said Dooley.

The fire destroyed all of the American Legions equipment.  The building was ruled a complete loss and state fire marshals are still investigating the cause of the fire.

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