Fire destroys popular bar and restaurant in Clayton County

A popular bar and restaurant in Clayton County has burned down following a fire Tuesday night.
Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 8:01 PM CDT
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MILLVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - A popular bar and restaurant in Clayton County has burned down following a fire Tuesday night.

The Guttenberg Fire Department was dispatched at around 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night to Bootleggers River Tavern for smoke and possible fire inside the business. The two-story building had Bootleggers on the lower level and a residence on the upper level.

Bootleggers is closed Mondays and Tuesdays, so Kelley Knockel, who co-manages the business, said she had spent the day preparing for the week ahead before the fire started.

“We were doing all of our weekly stuff that we do on Tuesdays, we were cleaning the fryers, we actually met with a couple of our reps and we left here about 2:30 to 2:45,” she mentioned. “We actually had gone in and out of the building probably three, four, five times just to make sure we had everything before we had left.”

Authorities say, upon arrival, the fire had spread significantly. They say everyone living on the second floor got out safely, but the structure, however, was a total loss. Authorities say the fire was under control at around 10:00 p.m.

Knockel said the outpouring of support from the community, both near and far, has been overwhelming.

”What can we do to help, you know, how can we help you, what can we do,” she recalled regarding what people are asking them. “That was almost one of the hardest things that I heard, it is just the aspect of them really wanting to be there to help us and that is so awesome coming from a small community.” Staff said they have received messages from people as far as Cedar Rapids and Muscatine.

Authorities say they are still investigating the cause of the fire. As for Bootleggers’ future, Knockel said it is still uncertain as they wait to hear back from their insurance.

The Guttenberg Fire Department was assisted by fire departments across the area, including Colesburg, New Vienna/Luxemburg, Holy Cross/North Buena Vista, Elkader, Garber, and Garnavillo. Other first responders who assisted on this fire include Guttenberg Ambulance, Clayton County Sheriff’s Department, Iowa State Patrol, Guttenberg Police Department.

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