The alarm came in about 6 a.m., according to Springfield Fire Chief Allen Reyne. When fire crews arrived, people were exiting the downtown building, which has apartments above the bar, and a second-story hallway was filled with smoke.
“One of those escaping said there were other people in the building,” Reyne said. The possibility of people remaining inside the building triggered a second alarm, the chief said, but firefighters found no trapped occupants. Reyne said he believed that between five and seven apartments in the building were occupied, but he did not know how many people might have been inside. No serious injuries have been reported, the chief said. “The ambulances on scene did a really good job of treating people and evaluating them,” Reyne said.
Owner Ryan Bandy said some cats owned by tenants suffered smoke inhalation and are being treated by veterinarians, but no lives were lost. Property damage is a different story.
“It’s pretty bad,” Bandy said. “There’s extensive fire damage.”
New floors were installed about a year ago, Bandy said. Since pandemic forced closure, Bandy has put in a butcher-block style bar top and otherwise spiffied up space that had grown comfortable as a living room for longtime patrons. After the state ordered bars and restaurants closed in March, Bandy said he obtained a paycheck protection loan from the federal government and has kept employees on payroll. “We just bought a new toilet to put in one of the bathrooms – I was really trying to make a lot of changes and really trying to clean it up,” Bandy said. “We were ready to open back up as soon as we got the green light.”
Bandy said he has insurance, but he said he can’t predict what the future might hold. He said he embarked on improvements after a deal to sell the bar to developers of a proposed hotel fell through last summer. The business, Bandy said, has been Springfield’s sole gay bar for some time, and its appeal was broad.
“We’ve been the only game in town for years,” Bandy said. “You can see how much a business like this means to the whole community, and not just the gay community.”
Contact Bruce Rushton at email@example.com.