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Fire claims Eagles Club

Fire claims Eagles Club

June 27th, 2018 by Michelle Brooks and David Wilson in Local News

<p>Photo courtesy Carol Wirts</p><p>The historic building, known as The Eagles Club Aerie #4027 for nearly 40 years, was claimed by fire overnight Sunday into Monday.</p>

The historic building known as The Eagles Club Aerie #4027 for nearly 40 years is no more.

After serving as home to a variety of businesses during its century-plus lifetime, the building was destroyed by a fire June 24-25.

California Fire Department trucks rolled out at 11 p.m. Sunday to respond to smoke pouring from the roof.

Responders discovered the building to be compromised and called volunteers from the California Rural Fire Protection District and the Jamestown Rural Fire Protection District.

"We had enough trucks, we need man power," said Fire Chief Allen Smith.

Nearly 30 volunteer firefighters worked through the night to keep the embers and flames contained.

"For us, in this city, this is a very significant fire," he said.

By 9 a.m. Monday, Rick Smith, past president of the club, said the building was totaled.

The fire was fed by the elevator shaft, what had been the oldest elevator in town, which acted as a chimney, Chief Smith said.

Rick Smith received the call about 11 p.m. and arrived at the club at the same time as the ambulance and firetrucks were getting on the scene.

He unlocked the side door for the emergency responders and they also attempted entrance through a rear air conditioner hole. But, when it was determined no one was inside — the club closing at about 8:15 p.m. — they transitioned from a offensive to defensive approach, Chief Smith said.

"Our motto is 'everybody goes home,'" he said. "We don't want to lose a life to save a building."

They had three monster streams flowing on the building, to keep the floating embers from spreading to nearby structures. Eventually, the emergency trucks were moved away from the building, in case the heat caused the brick walls to crumble.

And the building was monitored throughout Monday, in case spot fires started in the three-stories of debris which collapsed into the basement.

Several of the emergency volunteers left for their day jobs after battling the fire through the night. Others took the day off to stay on, Chief Smith said.

"These guys need a big pat on the back," he said. "It's great to have guys who take pride in protecting their community."

Rick Smith also stayed most of the night, as he said he could not sleep when he went home.

"We lost a lot of stuff that can't be replaced," he said, like portraits of each of the past presidents.

Chief Smith, also an Eagles member, said as they arrived on the scene with the smoke billowing and flames blinking through the windows, he thought: "Whether you're a member of not, you realize what this means to the community."

The Eagles leadership met Monday night and will meet again next week to discuss the club's future plans. For now, they must wait to hear from insurance and make the site secure.

"The club does a lot of good stuff for the community," Rick Smith said. "We'll come back, but it might be awhile."