Fire guts much of downtown Exira

The blaze in Jerry's Bar quickly spread to several other downtown buildings

EXIRA, Iowa - Hundreds of thousands of gallons of water had to be rushed into Exira this week after fire broke out in the heart of the community.

The small community didn't have the water or resources to get this building to stop burning.

Exira Fire Chief Mike Bintner is grateful for the help from Audubon, Atlantic, and Harlan among several others. In fact, about 30 departments responded to help this community.

They brought in water so they could fight the fire from the air, and they brought fresh firefighters to provide some relief.

"I woke up to smoke. Didn't seem overwhelming, though it was coming from outside," said business owner Mike Bendfeldt.

Bendfeldt owns the business that's burning. It was Jerry's Bar. A family friendly place that reopened after years of being closed down.

"It was starting to breathe life back into this town. The town will never be the same to be honest with you," said one onlooker.

The community stood and watched crews get control of the fire, that damaged not just one, but  an entire row of buildings.  But it was obvious, their beloved bar was gone.

"There's a lot of sentimental value and memories, it's a building to anyone outside of town, but to Exire, it means more than four walls," said one resident.

"Pretty devastated," added Bendfeldt.  "You lose part of your main street. It's tough on a small community."

There's no word on what could have started the fire. Flames shooting out the back but no electrical boxes there. An investigation is underway. 


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