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Issue of October 22, 2014
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Blue River Café burns again


May 2010 fire destroyed original restaurant


January 22, 2014 | 11:55 AM

For Mark and Debbie Woods, owners of the Blue River Café in Milltown, it was déjà vu, as firefighters were called out about 5:30 Sunday morning to find the restaurant in flames.

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Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze early Sunday morning at the Blue River Café in Milltown. The restaurant had re-opened in the summer of 2011 after rebuilding from a fire in May 2010. Photo by James Yaeger (click for larger version)
A fire consumed their previous establishment in May 2010, resulting in a total loss and the need for a complete rebuild. Research to find the reason for the 2010 fire was inconclusive, though Sunday's fire is thought to have originated in the attic near a furnace.

However, Mark Woods said he doesn't understand.

"This was the building that couldn't burn," he said Monday of the new restaurant, which opened in the summer of 2011. "We had this built essentially fireproof. ... I just don't understand."

Woods said when he and his wife rebuilt, they invested in the best contractors and the best building products in the area, even using the same electrician as the one utilized by the local school corporation.

"We had fireproof tiles put in the kitchen ceiling, firewalls, everything," Woods said, explaining that he doesn't know what it could have been besides an equipment failure.

"They will bring engineers in to take apart everything and tell us what might have gone wrong or what happened," he said. "It's going to take time."

While the kitchen and front dining area sustained the most damage — a large part of the roof collapsed over the kitchen area as a result of the blaze — the rear dining area where the café hosts its entertainment looks mostly untouched due to the firewall. However, Woods said everything in the area sustained heavy smoke damage.

Well-known throughout the region, the Blue River Café regularly drew customers from as far away as Louisville, French Lick and Evansville.

The café featured fine dining, a relaxed atmosphere and musical performances on the weekends.

The venue was also known for supporting artists by displaying paintings and drawings throughout the building. It has long been considered one of Crawford County's premier attractions.

The previous building was known as one of the oldest in Milltown. Built in the late 1800s, the upper floor was used as a lodge by the Knights of Pythians, a group of veterans that formed just after the Civil War.

When asked if he and his wife will rebuild, Woods was unclear, saying they must take this process as it comes and work one day at a time.

"I don't know about the future of the Blue River Café," he said. "It's only been there three years, and I don't know if I can do that, do this, all again.

"I can't even think about that right now. I just have to go in and do this a step at a time."

Firefighters from the Milltown and Marengo-Liberty volunteer fire departments responded, as did the Milltown Police Dept., and, Crawford County and Harrison County Sheriff's departments.

Twitter: @LeslieNicole5

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Corydon Democrat, 301 N. Capitol Ave., Corydon, IN 47112 • 1-812-738-2211 • email