Fire Destroys Crystal City Bandana’s Restaurant

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CRYSTAL CITY, MO (KTVI) -Fire crews fought flames, wind and cold while a fire gutted a Bandana`s Barbecue in Crystal City, Missouri.

The restaurant on South Truman, near Twin City Drive, closed at nine Tuesday night.  By three Wednesday morning, someone reported a dumpster was on fire.

"Actually, it wasn't a dumpster," Crystal City Fire Chief Tony Bova explained.  "It was a smoker that was attached to the back end.  It was, I'd say, an 8'x8' smoker.  That looked like it must have started [the fire]."

Firefighters found the restaurant completely engulfed.  High winds fanned the flames and the chief called for help.

"At least five departments," he said.  "And then, a second alarm where the other departments moved into our engine houses in case something else happens."

The fire ate through the roof in minutes, but Bova was not worried about the walls collapsing.

"It's a pretty well-built structure.  [The fire] was all up in the roof.  That's all wood roof, so that didn't help with the wind and fire."

The fire was stubborn, and hotspots popped up until well after sunrise.  Then, the search for the cause began.

"I have state fire marshals here.  I have Jefferson County fire investigators here."

Other than the size of the fire, another remarkable thing at the scene was the manpower.  Crystal City is an all-volunteer firefighting force.

"Actually, we've been 50 years volunteering for the City of Crystal City," Bova explained.  "Our adjoining town is Festus, and they're actually volunteers, too."

For these first responders the fire ended around eight Wednesday morning.  But for the employees, the impact was just starting to be felt.

"Just to figure out when I'm going to work next or if I'm out of a job, really," dishwasher James Isaac looked at the burned-out restaurant.

The American Red Cross also responded to keep firefighters safe from the cold air and high winds.  Many were on the scene for at least five hours. There is no word on exactly what caused the fire.

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