UPDATE: Fire Destroys Beloit Restaurant

UPDATED Friday, November 12, 2010 --- 9:10 a.m.

NBC15 News has confirmed another fire at the Gun Club restaurant at 1122 E. Colley Road in Beloit overnight.

According to an online report from the Janesville Gazette, the Town of Turtle fire chief, Tim Huffman, called the fire suspicious. He told the paper that gas and electric service to the structure was disconnected. The remaining structure, including the bar area, was fully engulfed in fire when crews arrived this morning.

A fire on August 7, 2010 destroyed the restaurant. The fire was ruled as an arson.

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UPDATED Monday, August 23, 2010 --- 11:15 a.m.

Press Release from the Rock County Sheriff's Department:

On Saturday, August 7, 2010, at around 5:00 A.M., the Gun Club restaurant at 1122 E. Colley Road, Beloit, Wisconsin was destroyed by fire. The restaurant was a total loss. Fire investigators ruled the fire arson

Subsequent investigation showed evidence of a burglary to the restaurant prior to the fire. The business safe was found open and an undisclosed amount of cash is unaccounted for. Also missing from the restaurant is a significant amount of “top shelf” liquor.

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered by ATF and the Wisconsin Arson Insurance Council for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the fire that destroyed the Gun Club Restaurant. Citizens who believe they have relevant information are being asked to contact the Wisconsin Arson Tip Line at 1-800-362-3005. Information may be left anonymously. Information can also be e-mailed to arsontipline@doj.state.wi.us. Those wishing to contact the Rock County Sheriff’s Office directly may do so through the Detective Division, 608-757-7923.

ROBERT D. SPODEN
SHERIFF
By: Captain Todd Christiansen

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UPDATED Thursday, August 12, 2010 --- 1:04 p.m.

BELOIT, Wis. (AP) -- Rock County authorities have concluded that a fire that destroyed a popular Beloit restaurant was intentionally set.

Sheriff Robert Spoden says no suspects have been identified following the weekend fire that left The Gun Club a total loss. He says there's clear information that the fire was arson but says he can't elaborate because of the ongoing investigation.

Federal and state agencies are offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to arrests.

Fire officials say the blaze fire started Saturday about 5 a.m. in the kitchen or dining area.

The restaurant was known as the Sportsman's Gun Club when it opened in 1933. It's been a Beloit landmark for decades.

Co-owner Cynthia Dajka of Rockton tells the Beloit Daily News the city has lost a great piece of history.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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UPDATED Wednesday, August 11, 2010 --- 3:20 p.m.

From the Rock County Sheriff's Office:

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Wisconsin Department of Justice - Office of the State Fire Marshal, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Turtle Fire Department have been investigating a fire that occurred on Saturday, August 7, 2010 around 5:00 a.m. at the Gun Club Restaurant,1122 East Colley Road, Beloit, WI. Investigators announced today that this fire has been ruled an arson.

A reward of up to $10,000 is being offered by ATF and the Wisconsin Arson Insurance Council for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for the fire that destroyed the Gun Club Restaurant. Citizens who believe they have relevant information are being asked to contact the Wisconsin Arson Tip Line at 1-800-362-3005. Information may be left anonymously. Information can also be e-mailed to arsontipline@doj.state.wi.us. Those wishing to contact the Rock County Sheriff’s Office directly may do so through the Detective Division, 608-757-7923.

Rock County Sheriff Robert D. Spoden stated, “This is a tragic loss of one of the county’s finest restaurants. The Rock County Sheriff’s Office will do everything we can to ensure justice for our community.”

This is a joint press release from The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Turtle Fire Department.

ROBERT D. SPODEN
SHERIFF
By: Sergeant Craig L. Strouse

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UPDATED: Saturday, August 7, 2010 --- 2:40 p.m.
REPORTER: Chris Woodard

An early morning fire burns a landmark restaurant in Beloit to the ground.

The huge blaze destroyed decades of history and left neighbors amazed their homes were saved.

Customers and employees join the owners staring in disbelief at what's left of Beloit's Gun Club Restaurant.

Roger Null knows the restaurant well. He's done work there and is good friends with the owners. He says, "It's going to be a tremendous loss. I don't' really know how to put that into feelings for you."

The restaurant has been a local landmark for more than 50 years.

Null says, "Well liked, well loved, it's got a great history."

Firefighters were called to the Gun Club around 5-thirty this morning. By the time they arrived the building already had flames shooting through the roof.

Once neighbors realized where the fire was their immediate concern was with the woods directly behind the building.

Janet Brown woke up to the smell of smoke.

She says, "It's panic at first because my daughter and grandchildren live with me."

Brown says in less than 5 minutes it went from smoke to flames shooting up high above the trees.

She says, "It was huge. It was huge. I was afraid that if these woods caught on fire all these homes would be in danger here."

Firefighters made it a priority to stop the flames from spreading to the woods and neighboring buildings but knew there was nothing they could do to save the restaurant. It's owners lost everything.

Null says, "They're pretty much speechless right now. It's just phone calls to loved ones and friends trying to get some support and that's what we're really here for."

What's left of the restaurant will now be torn down as investigators look to find a cause.

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UPDATED Saturday, August 7, 2010 --- 1:30 p.m.

Press Release:

At 0513 hours this morning, The Town of Turtle Fire Department, along with automatic mutual aid from The City of Beloit and Town of Beloit Fire Departments, were dispatched to the Gun Club Restaurant at 1122 E. Colley Rd., Beloit, for a commercial fire.

As initial fire units were responding, a police officer on scene advised that the structure was fully involved in fire.

First fire units arriving on scene found heavy fire throughout the whole building. Firefighters started a defensive fire attack and set up fire lines to protect a storage garage, vehicles and power poles that were next to the main building.

The fire was declared under control with overhaul operations starting at 0858 hours.

The fire is believed to have started in the dining room or kitchen area but has not been officially determined. The restaurant is considered a total loss.

Owners of the establishment estimate damages at $1,000,000.

The owners are Frank and Cynthia Dajka of Rockton, IL.

No injuries of civilians or firefighters were reported.

South Beloit and Clinton Fire Departments provided additional manpower. Red Cross was also on scene to assist the firefighters.

The Town of Turtle Fire Department remains on scene at this time to extinguish hot spots and continue investigations.

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UPDATED Saturday, August 7, 2010 --- 11:50 a.m.

From the Rock County Sheriff's Office:

On 08-07-10 at 5:13 AM Deputies from the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and Officers from the Beloit Police Department along with Fire and EMS from the Town of Turtle, Town of Beloit, City of Beloit, City of South Beloit, and the City of Clinton all responded to a fire at the Gun Club Restaurant at 1122 E. Colley Rd. in Turtle Township.

At 5:22 AM law enforcement and fire arrived on scene to find the restaurant’s dining and office/kitchen areas engulfed in flames. As law enforcement closed E. Colley Rd. from Brewster St. to one tenth of a mile east of the restaurant, the fire departments began battling the fire.

At about 9:45 AM the fire was extinguished and fire fighters began to sift through the fallen debris applying water to hot spots.

At the time of this press release, the investigation into the cause of the fire was still ongoing. Further details will be released in upcoming press releases as information becomes available.

ROBERT D. SPODEN
SHERIFF
By: Sgt. Goth #10623
Third Shift Patrol

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Posted Saturday, August 7, 2010 --- 10:00 a.m.

From NBC15's Chris Woodard:

An early morning fire destroyed Beloit's Gun Club restaurant.

Firefighters were several communities responded to the blaze at around 5:00 a.m..

As of 10:00 a.m., crews are still at the scene.

Town of Beloit Fire Department Capt. Rich Tippelt told the Janesville Gazette the building is considered a "total loss."

The cause is under investigation.


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