‘Devastating’: Templeton residents heartbroken after blaze guts historic building that housed pub

TEMPLETON, Mass. — A raging blaze tore through a historic building in Templeton that was packed with pub patrons on Wednesday night, officials said.

The Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall on Main Street in Templeton caught fire with people inside around 10 p.m. Everyone made it out safely, but the building, long called a town staple, is a total loss.

“It was just devastating,” said Sally Erickson, of Templeton. “Within 15-20 minutes the flames just engulfed the roof, and first, it was coming out of the front of the building and then through the top.”

Pictures from the Gardner Fire Department captured the massive flames as they devoured the longstanding building.

“The building is an historic building to the town of Templeton,” Templeton Fire Chief David Dickie said. “It has been a bar for many, many years here in Templeton. It’s been here for over 100 years.”

According to Dickie, the five-alarm blaze started while the Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall were both open and people were inside. In fact, according to the pub’s Facebook page, it was open mic night.

There were no injuries to patrons and no firefighters were hurt battling the flames, but the destruction of the building is a big loss for the small town and memories are now reduced to ashes.

“I mean there were worn tracks around the pool tables from 20 years of people circling the tables and the spot where you shot darts, there was a divot in the ground,” fellow Templeton resident James Buzzell said.

Buzzell’s late brother used to own the bar.

“This was a local institution, everybody came to the Onion,” Buzzell said.

A new owner recently took over the building and closed it for a few months over the summer to do extensive renovations.

“He was able to do the necessary improvements to the inside, to the kitchen to the bar itself, a new floor a better dancing area and a place for the bands to play,” Gordon Davis said.

Gordon Davis is friends with the owner and says he was looking forward to holding several events there.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Davis said. “Truly is. Can’t wait to see Matt and give him a hug. It was one of the last, nicest places around here. To see it so beautiful a few nights ago and to see it like this now, it’s pretty heartbreaking.”

Michele Anderson added, “He was going to have a great business here...Hopefully he’ll rebuild.”

People who knew the owner told Boston 25 News that he was currently working on fixing the second floor to make it a gaming area.

Now, an investigation is underway into what started the fire.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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