PALOUSE, Wash. - A small-town bar and grill held its grand opening Monday in Palouse. By dawn Tuesday the restaurant, housed in a century-old building, was a smoldering ruin.
The Brick Wall Bar & Grill was open for less than 24 hours before it burned to the ground.
When fire crews arrived early Tuesday morning, smoke was billowing out of the iconic downtown building which had been recently renovated.
Like just about everyone in Palouse, Fire Chief Mike Bagott was at the Brick Wall Bar & Grill for the opening party, hosted by owners Adam and Olivia Barron.
"The awesome thing about these small towns is that everybody mobilizes when something like this happens," Bagott said. "Everybody is just trying to stay alive out here and the thought of a new business and some activity to help build the community is such an exciting thing. To have it not last 24 hours is just very frustrating."
The early-morning fire burned with an incredible amount of energy.
"You could see all of the smoke in the windows and coming out of all of the crevices at first, just billowing out of the building," Palouse resident Chris Vanharn said
Firefighters entered the structure, but it wasn't long before the decision was made to pull them out, and crews began dealing with this fire in defensive mode, no longer able to save the building
"I mean, they lit up the sky. It was actually very impressive. Once that happened, we started moving our stuff out and it didn't take long after that to really catch the, the rest of the building came down quickly," Palouse resident Jacob Ortman said.
When the walls came crashing down, the sound was nothing anyone, even Fire Chief Bagott, had ever heard.
"There's nothing that can really describe what that's like when it comes down," he said. "I mean it's a loud bang and the fire flames up and it's the scariest thing you can imagine at that point in the fire."
It will be some time before the exact cause of the fire is known. Investigators have a lot of work ahead of them.
The Barrons said the business and the building were insured and they plan on rebuilding and coming back stronger than ever. One thing is for certain, they definitely have the support of the community in Palouse to help them get back on their feet.
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