Cactus Jack's fire

Temple Fire & Rescue firefighters work the scene of a fire Monday morning at Cactus Jack's Cantina in Temple.

Monday morning started off “with quite the bang,” Temple Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Mitch Randles said.

After responding at about 6:30 a.m. to a vacant house fire, seven fire units and support staff were sent at 8:13 a.m. a.m. to a structure fire at Brody’s Steakhouse and Cactus Jack’s Saloon and Patio.

Dark smoke could be seen for miles around Temple, as the building at 300 SW HK Dodgen Loop burned.

First responders to the blaze at 8:17 a.m. saw a lot of smoke and fire coming from the front and roof line, Randles said in a news release. Heavy fire was found in the attic.

  Firefighters use power equipment, several large volume hose lines and aerial apparatus to get to the fire. Fire and smoke damage to the building were severe and the building was considered a total loss, according to Randles.

The fire was finally determined to be under control at about 12:11 p.m., Randles said. Firefighters continued to knock out hot spots for several hours and move debris to uncover those areas. An investigation by the Fire Marshal’s office began after it was safe to enter the building.

  Fire investigators determined the blaze was accidental in nature and started in the front of the building in a small container. The exact cause will be released once investigators view video provided Tuesday by the restaurant, Randles said.

  The total estimated monetary loss is $650,000.

Cactus Jack’s responds

Cactus Jack’s Saloon and Patio posted a message Monday afternoon on Facebook.

“To our family and customers, here’s what we know right now. At some point this morning, Cactus Jack's Saloon and Patio and Brody’s Steakhouse caught fire. While we do not know the origins of the fire at this point, we know that there was severe damage to the building. There were no injuries from the blaze. All of the staff (has) been accounted for at this time. We know that the Temple Fire Department is still on the scene trying to piece together what happened,” the post said.

The last employee left the building at 4 a.m., Randles said.

The post expressed gratitude to Temple Fire & Rescue, Temple Police Department and any other first responders.

“While we are not sure of what the next steps will be, we will keep you all in the loop as we try to push on through the next days and weeks, the post continued.

Firefighting difficulties

Wind made the fire hard to battle, as did the copious amount of smoke generated by the fire. The smoke coming off the building got worse as time progressed.

Caught by the wind, smoke billowed over the nearby frontage road and Loop 363.

Firefighters had to rip open one of the wooden walls, as other firefighters extended over the fire by a ladder truck aimed water cannons at the burgeoning fire. Several hoses were pointed at the fire by firefighters.

Motorists were asked on Facebook by Temple Fire & Rescue to please avoid the area and to take other routes to their destinations.

Although cooler weather arrived overnight in Central Texas, the heat and smoke created a difficult combination for those fighting the fire. A rehab station was set up for the firefighters who had gone so quickly from one fire to the next.

Temple EMS, Temple Police and Temple Public Works Department all responded. Temple Fire & Rescue had seven units and 22 personnel at the fire, according to Randles.

Brad Bush has been the general manager of Cactus Jack’s for 16 years, he said.

As he looked Monday at the burning business, Bush gestured toward the building and said, “I would say I would give you a business card, but they are all up in flames.”

Telegram staff writer Shane Monaco contributed to this story