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Fire at Blue Gene's

By Stephanie Parker

Fire causes little damage to Blue Gene’s Cowboy Sports Bar

Due to the quick response of the Bandera Volunteer Fire Department, a fire that emptied out Blue Gene’s Cowboy Sports Bar on Saturday, Jan. 24, caused little damage.

A spokesperson for the bar said that the smoke curling into the establishment was at first blamed on the fire that had been burning in the fireplace all day. “We thought the chimney was leaking,” she explained. “It was a cool day, so we had a fire going. One of our bartenders, Mark Gola, is a volunteer fire fighter with Medina. He used buckets of ice to put out the fire. The smoke cleared out of the room and we thought everything was fine.”

About 30 minutes later, at 11 pm, smoke again started seeping into the bar. This time, however, it came through the woodwork and the fireplace. “Mark felt the wall and it was hot,” the spokesperson continued. “We stopped Ricky Adams and the Rusty Nails Band right in the middle of a song and cleared the house. Our customers were wonderful. They came right up and paid their tabs, then moved their vehicles.”

Within just a minute the firefighters with the Bandera Volunteer Fire Department responded. “The fire department didn’t tear the place up. Owner Gene Rhodes said that the fireplace will need to be remodeled, but that is just minor damage.”

Rhodes and his employees credited the quick thinking of Gola and Bandera’s emergency responders for keeping fire damage to a minimum. Blue Gene’s was open again on Sunday.

To make sure the fire did not rekindle, Gola, assisted by Bandera Police Officer James Brantley, kept an eagle eye on Blue Gene’s after it closed Saturday night.

“Everyone was so cooperative,” the spokesperson concluded. “Thankfully, the fire occurred while we were open. If it had happened after everyone left, it could have been serious.”

Bandera County Fire Marshal Ralph Dresser concurred with that assessment. “It was an accidental fire. They built too large a fire in the fireplace to be contained. The smoke and flames got up into the woodwork behind the facade. We had to tear the facade up to put the fire out. The fire was in the woodwork and would have gone up and engulfed the whole place.”

Dresser said fire departments responded to two other fires over the weekend, another chimney fire and an open burn that got out of control and burned down a shed.

“The burn ban is still on,” he warned. “Bandera County remains in a severe drought.”