Club trustees say they will work to restore the Maennerchor Club after fire

NOW: Club trustees say they will work to restore the Maennerchor Club after fire

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – The historic Maennerchor Club went up in flames Thursday in South Bend.

It’s not clear yet what caused the fire, but members of the club said the fire started on the second floor of the building and was, for the most part, contained to that floor.

Debris from the roof of the club has just piled up on the sides of the building after firefighters took on the flames earlier here this afternoon.

Paul Smith was just leaving the dentist when he saw the smoke nearby.

“I looked and I saw a whole bunch of smoke and I thought man! They are having a bonfire today!” Smith said.

He’s not the only one that stood by wondering what could have been happening. Hundreds in downtown South Bend today witnessed the flames and smoke blanket the city and many took to social media as it was happening.

“I seen a whole bunch of smoke going all over the place, and I saw a whole bunch of trucks coming down here and the fire chief coming through,” Smith said.

South Bend Fire Captain Gerard Ellis said because of the location of the fire between power lines, firefighters could only tackle the flames from a few spots, but it required a lot of effort. For safety reasons, I&M had to shut down some of the power lines in the area threatened by the fire, affecting more than 2,000 businesses and residents for a few hours. 

“Manpower is intensive with utility lines here and even the weather as a factor,” Ellis said.

Dozens of fire fighters crowded the club as they worked to contain the flames that completely demolished the roof and second floor of the Maennerchor Club. Amazingly, members of the club said the first floor bar area and the bowling alleys only saw water damage.

Those who are a part of the club are just thankful no one was hurt.

“It came is as a vacant structure, no one was inside at the start of the fire,” Ellis said.

This fire won’t be the end for the Maennerchor Club. The building has been situated on Lasalle Avenue since the 1850s and it was acquired by the club back in 1879 .

That history, coupled with the many memories made inside the building, are why club trustees said it’s not going anywhere.

Jeff Young, a trustee of the Maennerchor Club, said they’ll be meeting with their insurance company tomorrow to figure out how they can move forward after this.

One thing’s for sure though, they said they are going to fight to keep this building even though the damage is extensive.

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