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Karen Lacroix and her family lost their dad in February. Now a piece of their family has been damaged by fire.

Firefighters from three districts battled a blaze Thursday morning at the former TJ’s Lounge in Ames. While the fire was contained in about 20 minutes, Fremont Rural Fire Chief Wade McPherson said firefighters were on the scene even longer to check for hot spots and do cleanup.

North Bend and Nickerson fire departments provided mutual aid to help with manpower and to make sure there was enough water.

Barb Thompson, who operates Western Consulting across the street from the former bar, saw smoke coming from the building when she arrived at work. She reported the fire at 8:38 a.m.

“There’s no heat in the building, so I knew right away the minute I came around the corner here that something was wrong,” she said.

McPherson said the fire pretty much was contained to an addition to the original building, but it did spread to a nearby recreational vehicle, which was destroyed by the flames. The interior of the original building sustained smoke and some minor fire damage.

The Nebraska Fire Marshal’s Office was called in to investigate the cause of the blaze.

Lacroix said a portion of the building had been rented to a man who was doing repairs on metal trash containers for Waste Connections.

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Lacroix’s father, Verne Thomsen, had owned the property. It once was home to a popular bar and restaurant, but that closed more than 15 years ago.

There had been efforts to reopen a bar there – the last time was in 2009. Members of the Dodge County Board of Supervisors approved rezoning the property from light industrial to commercial, but they didn’t approve a liquor license application at the time. The application eventually was withdrawn.

Still, Lacroix said, the family had plans to clean up the property and “get things put back to being fairly nice.”

“My understanding is the main structure is sound,” she added. “It just has some smoke damage so the rest of it can be cleaned up.”

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