Source: Via GoFundMe

Watch: Minneapolis Gay Bar, One of America's Oldest, Hit Hard by Fire

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 2 MIN.

The 19 Bar, a gay establishment in Minneapolis that's among the oldest gay bars in the U.S., suffered a devastating fire on March 22.

CBS News reported that "a freak accident" sparked the blaze when "a garbage truck clipped a nearby power pole Friday afternoon."

"The pole then fell over and started a fire at the bar."

"Fire ripped through parts of The 19 Bar's basement, first floor, and ceiling" local news channel KSTP 5 reported, "causing some serious damage."

The news clip detailed that no one was hurt in the incident, but patrons told the news station that the bar was "a neighborhood institution" and "like a second living room."

One witness, Chiquita Plowman, told CBS News, "I felt the vibration from the explosion."

Added Plowman: "I looked out my window [and] saw the fire shoot up from the building."

Longtime patron Bubba Thurn, whose pronouns were shown onscreen as "they/them," told KSTP 5 that the bar was "the oldest queer bar in Minnesota, and possibly in the Midwest, at 76 years old."

Thurn also posted photos of the bar in the aftermath of the fire that showed scenes of wreckage and devastation.

The KSTP 5 news clip noted that the bar has no windows, which helped make the establishment safe for its patrons in its early decades, since those passing by outside could not look in and see people they knew and then out them. But the lack of windows also made putting the blaze out a harder task for firefighters.

Supporters flocked to offer encouragement to the establishment, for which, CBS News said, the "future is uncertain..."

"Absolutely gutted upon hearing about the electrical fire at the The 19 Bar," one patron posted on Facebook. "Literal years of (too many) drinks, laughs, tears, rounds of darts and love and friendship has been had at Minneapolis' oldest operating gay bar."

The post added: "Thankfully no one was hurt but the mental anguish is overwhelming for my community right now. Here's hoping for a swift rebuild ❤️❤️"

Another post, this one from another Minneapolis gay bar, Eagle MPLS, called The 19 Bar "a cherished symbol of acceptance and community for generations."

"Our hearts ache for the owners, staff, and patrons facing this sudden hardship," the Eagle MPLS post added. "In the face of this tragedy, let us stand together, offering our condolences, support, and unwavering solidarity."

"May the spirit of love and resilience that defines this iconic establishment continue to shine brightly," the post continued.

A GoFundMe to help provide funds for the bar's employees went up quickly, and juts as quickly drew thousands of dollars.

"There are 8 employees we know and love now with no work," the GoFundMe post explained. "As of now people don't know how long the bar will be closed. I thought this would be a good way to try and help them in the meantime."

Bad as the fire was, the owners are not throwing in the bar towel. KSTP 5 relayed that the establishment's proprietors intend to reopen the longtime city landmark.

Watch the KSTP 5 news clip below.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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