Bars may be smoke free, but now sheds are catching light

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:21 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

Andrew Robinson and Doug Pierce’s night at their favorite bar was a little hotter than usual Tuesday.

Robinson smelled smoke while sitting on the patio of McNally’s, at 7 N. Sixth St., at about 7:30 p.m. and began to investigate. The men saw smoke coming from a shed behind the bar.

“I looked over, and you could see it kind of waffing up. I climbed around, and you could see smoke between the fence and the building,” he said.

Pierce climbed to the top of the shed and saw smoke rolling out under his feet. He said he thought about trying to extinguish the fire with his beer.

Robinson told the bartender, then jumped over a fence and told the bartender at Tropical Liqueurs, at 515 E. Broadway. The bar owns the shed.

“It wasn’t a full blaze. It was just smoldering,” said Jay Sparks, a bartender at Tropical Liqueurs.

Lt. Randy White of the Columbia Fire Department agreed with Sparks’ assessment.

“It was just a small part of the storage shed floor,” White said. “They emptied a couple of extinguishers on it, and we used a water extinguisher and the hose. But it was mostly just smoke.”

There were no injuries, and the cause of the fire was unknown Tuesday night, White said. Three engines, a ladder truck, rescue squad, battalion chief and the division chief responded about four minutes after Sparks called 911.

The shed, which houses mainly extra cups and lids, is equipped with a sprinkler system that didn’t go off, Sparks said.

In the end, the only damage was a two foot square hole in the floor, White said.

Sparks said business will continue as usual.

Robinson and Pierce said the fire wasn’t much of an interruption to their night, but Pierce said he is glad firefighters “saved their bar.”

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