WYOMING, Iowa - "We'll probably smell smoke for 20 years, I would guess," Said Jim Eichhorn, Chairman of the Wyoming Historical Society Commission on Monday. He stood in an upstairs hallway of The Wyoming Historical Museum, looking at the once-golden hardwood floors that were coated with black soot after a fire broke out next door on Sunday.
When the fire threatened the more than century-old Wyoming Historical Museum, Jim Eichhorn and other volunteers jumped into action, trying to save what they could. They started with items closest to the wall they shared with Ted's Swinging Door Bar and Grill, which was reduced to ash.
"Irreplaceable," said Eichhorn, describing the contents of the museum. He said some of the old pictures on the walls had to be ripped off with pry bars, since they were screwed in.
The museum's basement was filled with more than three feet of water that seeped in from fire engines, and everything inside now either smells like smoke or is covered in black soot.
"This one was filled up right away with smoke," said Eichhorn, pointing to one of the rooms closest to the wall the museum used to share with Ted's.
Wyoming's water superintendent Jake Gravel said the city's water tower can only hold about 60,000 gallons of water, which ran dry quickly when firefighters started pumping.
"When you bring in a truck that's got a 1,500 gallon a minute capacity, it's not going to last," Gravel said.
He added that doesn't even count the truckloads that came in from nearby Onslow and Oxford Junction. It took until Monday to fully replenish the tower.
"My mains were dry. By the time you fill up the mains and tower, you're looking at 10 to 12 hours," Gravel explained.
He said it could take until Wednesday for the city to lift a boil order for tapwater, to make sure no bacteria seeped into the supply.
But the boil order is not what's troubling for Joan Davis who owns the nearby Bear Creek Café.
That's "just a little inconvenience," she told us.
She told us that in a small town like Wyoming, it's difficult to lose even one business, especially one that's been here as long as Ted's.
"It's been here for a long time, it's had a lot of loyal customers, they're good people, and I just hate to see our town lose that."
As of Monday afternoon, the Wyoming Fire Department still had not determined what caused the blaze.