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Following the Fire

Updated: Thursday, July 24 2014, 07:46 AM CDT

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - Clean-up efforts were just getting started on Wednesday at a popular Cedar Rapids night spot after a massive fire.

At about 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, someone spotted flames shooting out of the Chrome Horse Saloon on Third Street South East. When crews arrived, they found smoke coming out of the windows. Inside, they saw a ceiling had already collapsed, and a first floor staircase was impassable. The fire became so intense, that at the height of it, all on-duty Cedar Rapids firefighters were on the scene. Yet, no one was hurt.

Michael Flack was on his way home from work when he spotted the fire. His band, 8 Seconds, has played at the saloon for about a decade.

“This is probably one of our biggest turnouts for a local band,” Flack said of the Chrome Horse.

But, as Flack’s Band’s name suggests, seconds count, and that's all it took for rags soaked in animal oils, stacked on top of each other, to spontaneously combust in the building’s kitchen. Security video captured the fire's rapid spread. The Cedar Rapids Fire Department posted it on their Facebook page to help educate the community on the dangers of stacking rags with flammable materials.

“My phone was blowing up!” Chrome Horse Co-Owner, Gerald Taylor, said about waking up to the news.

This isn't the first time he and fellow co-owner, Jeremy Jones, have walked into the Chrome Horse to survey damage.

“Can this really be happening again?” Taylor asked. The building was shut down for some time following the Floods of ’08. Taylor said he believes that past struggles have made him stronger, and if the building is deemed structurally sound, he will, “move on and rebuild.”

For now, the business’ more than 30 employees won’t have a paycheck coming in. Taylor said he and Jones will do what they can to help their staff move forward as well.

“We try to help them with the people they know, other business owners, try to relocate them temporarily,” Taylor said.

Lou Thompson of Village Meat Market and Café had already visited the Chrome Horse’s Facebook page, posting that she has a job opening. Other area businesses have been doing the same. They’re all hoping to put those displaced from the Chrome Horse, back to work.

“People on the front of the house depend on tips, people in the back of the house depend on that hourly wage,” she explained.

She went on to add that she is invoking a “do on to others” mentality.

“That would be what I would want for this place, if something happened,” she said of Village Meat Market and Café.  “I’d want my people taken care of, and then I'd want this place to reopen,” Thompson said.

It is exactly what Flack, Taylor and Jones want to see happen as well.

“I'm hoping that, you know, they'll have a fast recovery, and we'll get to play back here real soon,” Flack whose band has several more shows scheduled at the Chrome Horse yet this year said.

Taylor added that the Chrome Horse has always been a passion of his, and he is hoping for the best.

“We have a lot of pride in it,” he said.


Following the Fire

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