Cause of Fire that Destroyed Bar in Van Horne Unknown

By Christy Aumer, Reporter

VAN HORNE, Iowa - Firefighters may never discover the cause of Wednesday's fire in downtown Van Horne that destroyed a bar and displaced one woman, authorities said.

Officials responded around 3:15 p.m. to a fire at Long Shots bar, located at 124 Main Street, after being notified smoke was coming out of the bar. Nearby businesses were evacuated for safety precautions. No one was inside the bar or the apartment in the back of the building prior to the fire, officials said.

"We're not sure exactly where it started, I'm guessing around the kitchen or store room in the bar," Van Horne Fire Chief Jeremy Hlas said. "The pharmacy next door received minimal damage. They had some siding that melted and got a little bit of water damage with putting out the other building."

After the roof of the building collapsed, Hlas said it became unsafe to have firefighters battle the fire from the inside, and the decision was made to tear down the building. Firefighters had asked a local resident who owns an excavator business to aid in the demolition of the bar. After spending roughly four hours attempting to extinguish the blaze, what remains of the corner building is a "big heap," with undetermined plans to rebuild the building, Hlas said.

"And with tearing it down, there's no way to do an investigation now," Hlas said. "It's just going to be classified undetermined."

Hlas confirms the displaced woman has found other shelter, but does not know with whom or where.

In 2008, the building had an upstairs apartment fire that was a result of a "cooking accident," but remained self-contained, only causing minimal water damage to the bar below. After the 2008 fire, the bar was remodeled and went under new ownership over the past couple of months.

"They completely fixed it up," Jessica Walters, 31, of Van Horne said. "It's become a great place to go to get together."

"They had the best bacon cheesy fries," Nicole Duncalf, 11, of Van Horne said.

About five other departments responded to the downtown Van Horne fire, Hlas said. About 15 firefighters responded around 3:15 p.m., and after the fire was fully extinguished around 7:30 p.m, there was about 30 firefighters on scene. No one was injured.
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