The Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill as fire crews battle the fire. Photo credit: Tim Speier
A fire broke out in the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill in Waite Park before 9 a.m. on April 6. Fire crews from Waite Park initially arrived at the scene at around 8:30 a.m. and the building had high heat, heavy smoke, and flames emerging from the sports bar.
Waite Park Fire Chief Jim Aleshire said by around 1 p.m. they had the fire under control and there were only some small areas inside of the building that were still smoldering.
“We were able to fight some of the fire from the Division [street] side of the building and then we tried to make an entry on the north side of the building where we encountered heavy fire and heavy smoke,” Aleshire said. “The roof structure was weakened, we had a wall structure that was cracked, showing signs of possible collapse.”
Aleshire said the fire passed through most of the interior of the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill, but he said they are unsure of where the fire originated.
Much of the fire was in the east side of the building and, “there [are] some parts of the kitchen in that area, and coolers, you know, most of the kitchen equipment,” Aleshire said.
To date, the cause of the fire is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office and Aleshire said there were reports of someone being in the building earlier that morning, but there were no reports of a fire the last time someone was in the bar.
At approximately 11 a.m., an excavator was brought on-site and by about 12 p.m., crews began tearing parts of the roof down to help extinguish the fire. Most of the building is currently still intact, but the Fire Chief said right now it’s up to the State Fire Marshal’s office whether or not the building can be salvaged.
Aleshire said although he is saddened by the loss of a building and a family business, he was pleased with the effort of the fire crews from all of the fire departments that came together including Waite Park, St. Cloud, Sartell, and St. Joseph.
“I’m proud of all of our guys. We did it. We did a very good job of keeping it from totally burning down,” he said. “I mean … the building’s in tough shape, but we did the best we could with the fire conditions we had when we arrived on scene.”
The Fire Chief said that there have been no reported injuries at this time and the streets will be closed until further notice so crews can clean up debris in and around the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill.
The loss of the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill was a shock to both Valery Foster, a current employee, and Rose Stanton, a former employee, who were across the street watching the fire crews put out the fire. The Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill, “was like a family,” said Foster as they noted all of the regulars and former employees in the crowd that had gathered to watch.
Though Stanton no longer worked for the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill, she was concerned for Tom Frerichs, owner of the Ultimate Sports Bar and Grill.
“[Tom] was doing take-out orders and had big plans to open back up,” said Stanton. “[He] was doing a lot of maintenance, repairs, and cleaning inside. [He was] getting ready to go again.”
Not only was that opening delayed but the uncertainty of what to do next became apparent to Foster, who had looked forward to reopening during the summer.
“I was really excited to run around the deck this summer, last summer was really fun, but I don’t know now,” Foster said.
The fire not only destroyed a business that morning, it took away a staple of the community it had long served.
“The building’s been here a long time, [this will have] a significant impact on the community,” Aleshire said. “When there’s a good game on of whatever sport it might be, this place was always packed.”
Be sure to check back with the University Chronicle as this is a developing story.
Investigative Reporter Tim Speier contributed to this article.