The Rainbow Lounge, a Fort Worth gay nightclub, was destroyed Thursday morning by a fire that authorities believe was accidental.[[425653264,R]]
Fort Worth Fire Department Battalion Chief William MacQueenette said the club's employees had closed for the night and were outside when they noticed smoke coming from the building in the 650 block of South Jennings Avenue.
Firefighters said eight trucks responded to a call about the fire just after 3 a.m. and noticed the roof sagging. Shortly after forcing their way inside, firefighters noticed the roof beginning to collapse and had to evacuate the building.
The fire was declared under control just after 4 a.m., but firefighters said they remained at the scene until nearly 7 a.m.
No one was inside the building when the fire started and no injuries were reported, according to MacQueenette.
The club owner tells NBC 5 he will be scouting out a new place to open Rainbow Lounge in the coming months.
The latest news from around North Texas.
And the property owner says the remains of the building will be demolished. The decision as to whether to rebuild won't be made for a few months.
The club was the site of a controversial raid in 2009 that resulted in two men being injured during a scheduled inspection by Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission.
Two TABC agents and a supervisor lost their jobs and three Fort Worth police officers were suspended after the incident. The TABC and city of Fort Worth also paid more than $600,000 to the victims to settle lawsuits.
Jai T., who says she has worked at the nightclub on-and-off for decades, surveyed the damage on Thursday morning.
"I'm trying not to cry because it really saddens me that this happened," she said.
Officials said the building is a total loss.
The loss of the building hit members of the LGBT community hard.
"It's very nostalgic, so it really takes me back to the day," said Stephanie Weatherford.
Weatherford says she visited the bar in the early 1990s with friends.
"It'll always be the 651 to me and probably anybody 50 or around 50 years old," she said.
The Fort Worth Fire Department's Arson and Bomb Unit is still investigating the fire, but they said they consider it to be accidental. The cause has not yet been determined.