WATERFORD - The fire in the historic building raged for several hours, at times when the temperature was well below zero. Amazingly, every firefighter made it out safely and that has neighbors saying praises.
The smoke was so thick that Heidi Sladek, who lives nearby, decided she better get out.
“And it kind of made my hallway pretty, not smoky but smelly. So I thought maybe I’d be smelling it a little bit. So I took my three cats and escaped in the car for a few hours," said Sladek.
Before Sladek fled, she shot video from her window as she kept an eye on firefighters.
“I felt bad for them, I was saying a little prayer for them, ya know ‘cause it was so cold and then the smoke just got huge, huge, huge," said Sladek.
Despite hot flames inside Martini Mo'z on Main Street, the bitter temperature outdoors complicated firefighting efforts, but they knew what to do to stay safe.
“We usually try to keep our masks on over our face just to warm it up, just so, you know, our lungs don’t get cold and it snaps the energy from you as well," said Cpt. Joe Uselding.
School buses served as warming centers for firefighters, and ambulances were on standby, just in case something went wrong.
“Usually in the extreme cold, we have to worry about our water lines freezing up, if we’re flowing too much water, we can have cracked mains," said Cpt. Uselding.
To compensate, they had to bring in water from other sources like the Fox River. The four alarm fire's now the talk of the town.
“Obviously it’s devastating. It’s one of the oldest buildings in town. How do you replace a landmark okay?" questioned Village President Tom Roanhouse.
“Not too many taverns left around here. There were three, now there are two. I feel bad for the people," said Nick Grabowski who lives nearby.
The brick shell of the building remains intact, but the interior is gutted.