Downtown Businesses, Residents Grapple with Press Bar Blaze
ST. CLOUD -- Downtown residents and businesses are facing uncertainty as crews work to control the fire that destroyed the Press Bar and Parlor.
Fire crews were called to the nightclub, located at 502 West St. Germain Street, around 2:40 a.m. By noon, excavation crews were on site, tearing the building apart to help contain the spread of the fire.
Andrew Schendel lives in the Jones and Long Facades, a cluster of apartments located above 510-514 West St. Germain Street, just to the west of the Press Bar. He was awakened by a neighbor knocking on his door around 5:00 a.m. and told to get out.
"He was going out for a walk and saw the fire," Schendel says. "The wind was blowing to the west, so all that smoke was coming right toward our building."
Schendel was able to briefly reenter his apartment around 5:30 a.m.
"I ran back in, just to grab the titles to my car, stuff like that, just in case the fire kept going," he said. "(Firefighters) were having a hard time keeping control of it at that point."
The fire began in the basement of the Press Bar and spread through the building's walls, attic and crawl spaces, according to St. Cloud Battalion Chief Jerry Raymond. As of Monday afternoon, fire and excavation crews were still working to fully extinguish the blaze and prevent damage to adjacent businesses.
Schendel says he and other residents will not be allowed back into their apartments Monday night as crews continue excavating underneath the building. He isn't sure when he will be able to return home.
"I was told to contact the Red Cross or a friend until they know more," he said.
Parts of Fifth Avenue and West St. Germain Street are blocked off as crews continue to extinguish the fire and remove debris from the site.
While some businesses in the immediate area of the fire remain closed, others are already operational. MC's Dugout and the Veranda Lounge, both located along Fifth Avenue, opened Monday at 4:00 p.m.
"We plan on running as normally as possible," said a Veranda Lounge spokesperson.
Except for "a smoky smell," Business was uninterrupted for Courtyard by Marriott, located at the corner of West St. Germain and Fifth Avenue. Polito's Pizza, located at 515 W. St. Germain, plans to reopen Tuesday afternoon.
Mexican Village, located on St. Germain across from the former Press Bar, is working with a company to assess the amount of smoke damage to the restaurant before deciding whether to reopen Tuesday.
Revolver Studios, located at 513 W. St. Germain, was also closed Monday. Owner Scarlette Revolver says she's approaching the decision to reopen Tuesday cautiously.
"I don't want my students breathing in smoky air," she said.
Press Bar neighbor Granite City Comics & Games will remain closed Tuesday to clean up smoke and soot.
The Red Carpet did not respond to WJON's request for comment.
St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis took to social media Monday morning to praise fire crews and express condolences for the Press Bar and other downtown businesses affected by the blaze.
No injuries have been reported. Officials say the cause of the fire might not be known for several days.
The Press Bar and Parlor was one of St. Cloud's most historic bars, dating back to 1942.