An explosive fire destroyed a downtown Roundup cafe Wednesday morning.
A volunteer firefighter passing nearby smelled smoke coming from the Vintage Cafe at 220 Main Street and alerted the fire department at about 9:30 a.m.
The fire engulfed the cafe quickly, and firefighters were unable to get to parts of the blaze. Firefighters used construction equipment from KLE Construction, who were working nearby, to tear down the building in order to access all of the fire and protect surrounding buildings, said Musselshell County Sheriff Shawn Lesnik.
One propane tank exploded and firefighters worked quickly to move other propane tanks away from the building.
“It got pretty western pretty quick,” the sheriff said.
One firefighter was taken to an area hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation and exhaustion.
No one was in the building at the time. The building on the north side of the cafe is vacant, and the south side of the building shares a wall with the Wall Building, which is a storage building for Wier Furniture.
According to Lesnik, the Wall building was spared fire damage, but suffered smoke damage. The vacant building on the other side of the cafe was partially destroyed by fire.
John Rae Jr. has owned the turn-of-the-century Wall Building since 1974. He was at home when the sheriff called about the fire.
"It's sad," he said. "There are are two less buildings now."
Rae is grateful that the north wall was made of block and not wood, as well as for a leak in the roof that may have let water in the building.
He and a crew moved some of the furniture stored in the building to another storage building across the street.
The sheriff said the fire was “a damn shame. It was a good cafe."
Law enforcement blocked the street and by about 11:30 a.m., more than 100 people stood nearby watching and recording the fire with their phones.
Amy Nickelson works at the Radio Shack across the street and watched the fire. "It's really sad for our little town," she said. "It was a great little restaurant."
She said the restaurant, which had been remodeled in the past few years, had planned to re-open Thursday after being closed due to coronavirus. It was formerly the Pioneer Cafe.
Sheriff Lesnik said the building is insured, but the owners, who lived above the cafe, now have lost everything.
"All they have left is the clothes on their backs," he said.
He said a fund is in the process of being set up at First Security Bank in Roundup.
Nickelson emphasized Roundup's resilience and sense of community in difficult times. "This town will rally," she said.
Emergency personnel from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and fire departments from Roundup, Musselshell County, Bull Mountain Fire, Hawk Creek Fire and Dean Creek we among those who helped with the fire. A fire marshal was called to investigate the scene.
As of 4 p.m., Main Street was being re-opened to traffic.
Photos: Vintage Cafe in Roundup destroyed in explosive fire
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