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Roseburg night spot burns to the ground

Flames soared into the dark sky as a Roseburg bar with a storied past burned to the ground today.

The Chrome Nightclub, 2455 N.E. Diamond Lake Blvd., was a charred and smoking shell this morning from the blaze that destroyed the 54-year-old building and its contents.

The pieces of the roof that had not collapsed into the interior of the structure lay broken and blackened off to the building’s side. All that remained of the nightclub’s signature funhouse mirrors were a few crinkled reflective panels marred and darkened by smoke and heat.

The structure, valued at more than $169,000 by the Douglas County Assessor’s Office, appears to be a total loss, the Roseburg Fire Department said.

A Douglas County sheriff’s deputy noticed smoke coming from the roof when he drove by the nightclub around 1:40 a.m.

Fire Marshal Tony DiMare said the fire was reported approximately an hour after the last employee left. No one was injured in the blaze.

Firefighters used multiple engines and a ladder truck to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading to other businesses, DiMare said.

“We poured water on it, you know, for almost two hours straight,” he said. “For whatever reason, the fire was a pretty fast-moving fire … we had water coming in from every angle, as you can imagine.”

He estimated crews fought the blaze for more than two hours before bringing it under control.

At one point, firefighters poured 3,000 gallons per minute on the fire.

Diamond Lake Boulevard was shut down until 5:20 a.m., at which point one lane in each direction was reopened. The street was completely opened at 7:15 a.m.

The contents of the club were destroyed and a limousine parked in front of the club received heavy damage.

DiMare and Battalion Chief Josh Voynick donned oxygen masks and tanks before entering the wreckage this morning, taking pictures and clearing debris as they began their investigation into the cause of the blaze. As the white smoke still pouring from the building turned black, a hose was brought in to squelch any hot spots that remained.

A few minutes later, Roseburg police detectives arrived to assist with the investigation. The cause remains unknown.

The club most recently changed hands earlier this year when Roseburg businessman Ben Bass leased the property and changed its name from The Zoo.

The nightclub was remodeled and opened in March. Owner Ben Bass told The News-Review in March the club was “targeting people who want an upperscale, clean, safe environment.”

The remodel included disabled-accessible restrooms, new lights, illuminated dance areas, a VIP area, new carpet and paint, new furniture and three bartender stations.

Efforts to reach Bass today for comment were not successful.

The building’s owner, James Walker of Roseburg, expressed regret at the devastation that occurred while he slept. He learned of the fire around 7:30 this morning.

“I just, I hope it was something natural. I hope it wasn’t arson, but nobody suspects that … everything was always done with certified people, so I don’t know what would cause it,” he said.

Walker said he bought the property in the early 1990s, when it first operated as the strip club Cowgirls.

Before its opening as Chrome, the building opened in 2009 as The Zoo and was run by the owner of the Idle Hour Tavern, Joe Coleman, who could not be reached for comment this morning.

Previous to that it was Wild Bill’s Dance Hall & Saloon, opened by Roseburg native Bill Hopper in 2007, though the building was best known as Cowgirls, a nude dance bar that operated for 13 years before its closing at the start of 2007. The strip club that attracted protesters when it opened.

Other iterations of the bar include the Country Palace, the Diamond Nugget and the Western Connection.

Walker said he was pleased with all of the improvements that had been made to the place recently.

“Ben really did a lot of improvements inside; Joey (Coleman) too before him,” Walker said. “Everybody’s putting money in it … and then it burned, so it’s kind of a bummer.”

A $9,000 HVAC system was among the recent improvements Walker himself made. He said he doesn’t know what he will do with the property in the wake of the fire. It will depend on what his insurance company pays for and what the city is willing to let him do with it.

“I don’t know, it’s just a really good location for a lot of things, so I just have to wait and see what the insurance pays … I will build something, but I just don’t know. It’s just too early,” Walker said. “I’m really disappointed because I think everybody had a good little thing going here, and it’s just a great spot to have a business.”

Members of the Roseburg Police Department, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, Douglas County Fire District No. 2 and other agencies responded to the incident.

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The News-Review Updated Jul 17, 2013 12:52PM Published Jul 31, 2013 07:26PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.