By Erin Hassanzadeh

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Officials are calling it one of the scariest fires they’ve seen. The historic Press Bar in downtown St. Cloud is a pile of rubble now after an intense firefight that started early Monday, less than an hour after employees closed up for the evening.

WCCO’s Erin Hassanzadeh explains what is next for this busy corner of downtown St. Cloud.

“It’s probably one of the scariest fires I’ve ever seen,” said St. Cloud fire chief Dean Wrobbel “We were at zero visibility for most of the time.”

Firefighters douse smoldering spots more than a day after a basement fire leveled the iconic Press Bar and Parlor in downtown St. Cloud.

“It’s been kind of a go-to place with me and my friends,” said St. Cloud resident, Scott Brutger “I saw a lot of great bands there it was just incredible.”

As many drop by to reminisce, authorities examine the debris in search of a cause. And officials reflect on a tough firefight.

“We were in the building for about 45 minutes trying to find the seat of the fire,” Chief Wrobbel said. “We could hear it in the walls and things and we just could not get to it.”

The building had a lot of concealed spaces in it, voids where the fire could travel.

When it became clear that firefighters could not save the press bar they shifted to Cowboy Jacks next store, which shares a brick wall with the Press Bar. The Fire Marshall says there’s smoke damage and water in the Cowboy Jacks basement and the people living above it are not yet able to return home

The building has been standing for more than 100 years, but the current owners have been in business for less than five.

“They have done remodeling inside they’re committed to that property, they suffered a tremendous loss,” said St. Cloud mayor Dave Kleis.

As the community processes the loss, many hope the next chapter on this corner will be as iconic as the last.

“This is historic, this is an iconic building and iconic historic corner,” said Kleis.

“The memories will last but we will see what happens, see what they rebuild,” said Brutger.

The mayor says he hopes to have the streets around the Press Bar open by Wednesday.

Erin Hassanzadeh