CHIPPEWA FALLS — The View tavern, located on Lake Wissota, was devastated by an early morning fire Tuesday.
Chippewa County Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk got to the tavern, located at 17779 Highway X in the town of Lafayette, shortly after the fire was reported at 6 a.m.
“It’s going to be a total loss, with the flames coming out of the windows,” Kowalczyk said.
The Chippewa Fire District was among the departments that arrived to battle the blaze.
“Fire arriving units observed heavy fire coming from the south east side of the building in the basement area,” Chippewa Fire District chief Scott Bernette said in a news release. “The fire had already impinged on the overhead deck. The fire was initially knocked down and crews searched for fire spread within the building. Due to the type of construction involved, the fire was able to travel in void space between the floors and several additions to the building.”
Agencies across the Chippewa Valley responded to the scene. Bernette estimated there were 60 firefighters present.
“A total of 1.5 million gallons of water was used on the fire. Water sources included the Lafayette Fire Station, the city of Chippewa Falls water utility hydrants and water from Little Lake Wissota at the Lafayette Boat Landing,” Bernette said. “Water from little Lake Wissota was obtained by Township Fire Department’s portable pump using holes drilled in the ice.”
After fighting the interior fire for two hours, a decision was made to go into a defensive mode with crews being pulled from the building.
“Due to the multiple additions and remodeling, command felt that the safety of the firefighters would by compromised by a further interior attack,” he wrote. “Firefighting efforts were hampered by both weather and road conditions.”
The fire is still under investigation but the fire is not being classified as suspicious. Damage estimate was unavailable, he said.
The tavern is owned by Rob Brown, who purchased and remodeled it, featuring a rooftop tiki bar. Brown declined to comment Tuesday morning.
David Staber, town of Lafayette chairman, said he heard the fire trucks go by, so he listened to the scanner to find out what had happened. Staber said the business has been there for decades and brings people to the lake.
“It’s a big loss to the township,” Staber said. “It draws a lot of tourism. They are a good business. People enjoyed going there. Going into the spring season, it’s going to be a big loss for the economy.”
Brown purchased the bar in July 2013 and immediately began the major renovations, overhauling the tavern to add a banquet and reception hall, along with installing the 3,000-square-foot rooftop patio. The building was 2,300 square feet when he acquired it, but it wound up being closer to 5,000 square feet once it was finished, plus the patio.
In recent years, he also has brought in larger music acts, such as Saving Abel, to perform in the venue.
The tavern features 19 docks for boats coming off Lake Wissota.
Despite its location along the lake and proximity to Ray’s Beach, The View has had several owners and operators in recent years. David J. Lambert purchased it from Al Grube in 2007, but the Bank of Alma reclaimed the bar in 2009 after Lambert failed to pay off a loan, and the tavern was closed for several months. Russell Faschingbauer then re-opened it in May 2009.