LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The orange glow of fire lit up the night sky in Okolona while sparks from a power line made it look like fireworks on the ground. The magnitude of the massive fire alone made for major safety concerns for firefighters battling a business fire early Tuesday.
"We went into defensive operation. The interior conditions were too terrible to put any of our firefighters in," Okolona Fire Marshal Mike Allandorf said.
Smoke billowed in the sky like a cloud, making only a Preston Highway sign visible. What was once visible - the iconic pink roof at Fibber's Bar - may have actually helped fuel the fire.
"A lot of wood was consumed prior to us getting here so this fire could have been burning for quite sometime inside and once it got up and popped through the roof and got a good gulp of air it took off through the rest of the structure," Allandorf said.
The owner - Charles "Skip" Logsdon - got a call from his alarm company. He's been a part of the business for nearly 20 years.
"It's a neighborhood bar. They come in and it's like family. You get to know people," he said.
The building itself has much more of a history; a history that all went up in smoke.
"The building itself dates back to the 30s so it's a significant loss for the community," Allandorf said. The business at one point was named for Kentucky State Rep. Fibber McGee.
The loss could have been even more extreme if firefighters hadn't gotten a good grip on it.
"Luckily enough the fire was all up high and didn't really get into where the bar area was and start consuming the alcohol was. Our concern was the immediate next door neighbors," Allandorf said.
Cox's Smokers Outlet and Spirit Shoppe suffered smoke and water damage, but was spared from the flames and devastation. Mike Automotive suffered some fire damage since it shared a roof with the bar.
In the empty chairs inside the tavern sit memories of a family business, and while the blaze may have melted both Happy Hour - and a sign advertising it - the owner is letting the news set in before deciding what's next.
"I'm still in shock I guess. It's just... pretty heartbreaking," the owner said.
Firefighters say at least a half-dozen 911 calls from people driving by the building at 8122 Preston Highway a little after 3 a.m. Tuesday and alerted dispatchers to the fire. Metrosafe issued a second alarm about ten minutes later.
Fibber's is a loss; the other two buildings need repairs. The official cause of the fire has been ruled undetermined, fire officials say, though they add it was likely electrical in nature, but that can't be confirmed due to the amount of damage.
Fire officials estimate the damage to the tavern at around $275,000. The owner says he does have insurance on the 1,700 square foot property.
Several roads were blocked because of firefighting equipment, but opened just before 7 a.m.
Eight trucks and between 60-70 firefighters responded to the fire. No injures were reported.