A popular gay nightclub in Lincoln, Nebraska was destroyed by fire on Saturday night and authorities will have to wait weeks to determine the cause because of freezing weather.
More than a dozen fire crews attended the scene of the fire at Karma Nightclub & Cabaret and had to deal with water freezing on their equipment and the ground while they fought to try to contain the huge fire – one of the largest they have had to battle in recent memory.
The fire is believed to have started on or near the club’s stage around 7.45pm on Saturday night.
An employee tried to use a fire extinguisher to put out the fire when it began to blaze but it quickly spread inside the bar and by the time fire crews began arriving on the scene there was already heavy smoke billowing from the roof.
The blaze took over two hours to contain, with fire fighters still working on the scene after 10pm.
During the operation they had to prevent an alley wall from collapsing which might have seen the fire spread to neighboring buildings and the fire also caused an electrical outage which blacked out much of the surrounding area.
Despite their efforts Lincoln Fire Battalion Chief Leo Benes has declared the business a total loss.
Karma owner Kyle Baun told 10/11 News he had been devastated by what he saw when he arrived on the scene.
‘911 had already been called before I got a call and in the back of my mind I’m hoping it’s a small containable fire [but] when I pulled down 9th Street and saw the fire trucks and flames coming out of the top of the building … my heart sunk,’ he said.
Only two people were in the bar when the fire broke out and both made it out without injury.
Lincoln Fire Inspector Don Gross has said it may take weeks until weather conditions improve and a proper investigation into the fire’s cause can be determined.
Previously known as ‘The Q,’ the building had operated as a gay venue for 20 years in Lincoln and had only just celebrated its one year anniversary under a new name and owner.
Karma Nightclub & Cabaret posted a statement to their patrons and supporters on Facebook last night, writing, ‘Thank you to everyone for the well wishes and prayers.’
‘We will keep you posted on new happenings here and the website as we know more. The physical structure at 226 S 9th Street is no longer there but the memories over the past 20 years will carry on forever.
‘Karma [means] "Good times happen to good people" and you all have been good people. We will get over this hurdle and continue on with more incredible memories.’
You can watch a local news report on the fire below