PERHAM, Minn. - Early Sunday morning fire erupted from Suds Tavern in downtown Perham. The start of Christmas vacation for many was interrupted by an inferno that quickly spread to adjacent buildings. Suds Tavern and Make Me Wine were completely destroyed in the fire.
A pile of charred wood and debris dominated the city block, which was once home to the popular bustling bar, where many remember having their first drink, hanging out with friends, or watching a game or two. Suds is no more, only piles of burnt wood and furniture are left of the establishment.
At 5:47 a.m., the Perham Fire Department received a report of heavy smoke coming from the roof of Suds. The department responded quickly and received assistance from New York Mills, Vergas, Frazee and Detroit Lakes Fire departments. The building was old and made of brick, making it difficult to tame the fire. Ultimately the fire department had to use heavy machinery and excavators to tear the building down. By doing this, they revealed the seat of the fire, making it easier to extinguish.
There were no injuries or fatalities reported. Most members of the fire department were still asleep when they received the call.
"A lot of people have things going on, but that's part of the volunteer fire department service," said Mark Ebeling, First Assistant Chief of the Perham Fire Department. People don't expect tragedy to strike right before Christmas. Several locals could be seen downtown Sunday morning, taking in the destruction of their former watering hole, taking photos and reminiscing about fonder times at the tavern.
Stan Keller spoke candidly about the Suds Tavern. "It's sad to see such a popular establishment go," said Keller as he reminisced about shooting pool and socializing with friends at the bar. He, like others, woke early to a cavalcade of sirens ripping through the brisk morning air. When he went to investigate the noise, he saw only the bar burning down.
The destructive nature of the fire certainly rocked the downtown area and stole from it businesses that will be sorely missed. Make Me Wine was a very popular retail location that specializes in winemaking accessories. Only hours ago, the store was open and helping wine enthusiasts with all their brewing needs. Now, it's all gone. This statement was released from the shop: "We greatly appreciate everyone's sympathy and understanding during this time. Thank you all for your patronage for the past 9 years, we have made many new friends and memories during that time. We will figure out what the future holds after the holidays."
As of Sunday afternoon, it isn't clear what started the fire.