VICTOR, Colo. - A former union hall for miners built in 1899 was gutted by fire Saturday afternoon.
The Teller County Sheriff's Office said firefighters responded to a call of a fire caused by lightning in the 100 block of 4th Street around 3:15 p.m. Many residents reported hearing the lightning and feeling the heat from it.
Barbara McMillan, the building's owner, said she was inside at the time.
"It just blossomed," she said.
Firefighters, including several units from Colorado Springs, contained the fire to the building but some nearby businesses were evacuated because of the danger posed by propane tanks behind the building.
"I'm sure there is (damage to adjacent buildings), at least the one next to it," said Lt. Marc Porcelli of the Sheriff's Office. "Water damage and smoke. It was smoking pretty good for a couple of hours."
Authorities sealed off the area for two blocks in each direction and began reopening some streets by 8 p.m.
McMillan said she lives in Denver and was in her second weekend of reopening the building as an antiques shop. She said she invested $400,000 of her own money in the business and had helped restore the building.
"I hadn't even put a sign up yet," she said. "I don't have insurance because you can't insure a vacant building. I just opened two weekend ago and was about to call my insurance agent. It hurts to lose the money I put into it."
As residents watched the building burn, they reflected on its history. It was a union hall for miners at the turn of the 20th century and the scene of violence when members of a militia shot at striking miners in 1903-04.
"Actually, there's a lot of bullet holes there, and somebody got killed in there," said Daniel Roy, a Victor native. "What I remember of it was Christmas plays and a place to gather and have social events. It (was vacant) for many years but it was really a neat place when I was growing up."
Another resident, Shawn Frizzell, called it a sad day for the town.
"I watched (the fire) all afternoon," she said. "It's sad to lose the history. It was a very important building for us."