The Rainbow Lounge gay bar of Fort Worth, Texas (barely 30 minutes west of Dallas) burned to the ground last night in what firefighters are calling “a total loss.” Firefighters arrived at the scene around 3 a.m. and were still extinguishing flames at 6 a.m.. No one was injured. Arson investigators are looking into the cause though they believe the blaze was accidental.
Employees had just closed down the bar and were smoking outside when they noticed smoke coming from the building. The club owner and manager immediately called 911.
Firefighters say that the bar’s roof caved in shortly after they arrived and that the fire was too dangerous to battle from within, so they extinguished it from outside the building.
The Rainbow Lounge is the only prominent gay bar in Fort Worth. Many locals from surrounding rural towns would drive into Fort Worth to enjoy its drag nights and lively weekends.
According to the Rainbow Lounge Facebook page, an officer with the Fort Worth Police Department was allegedly rude to the bar’s employees upon arriving at the scene last night:
“We had a horrible crisis last night when our club burned down and [Officer Hernandez] had absolutely no right to be rude and or ugly to any of us… Our Gm (general manager) was trying to tell him the bar was locked and he would give him the keys so they could put the fire out… Officer Hernandez said, ‘Get the fuck back or I will arrest all you.'”
The officer’s alleged rudeness has particular significance because of an infamous raid on the bar by the Fort Worth police and Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) in 2009. The raid, in which suspects were handcuffed, shouted at and put face down on the alcohol-dampened and glass covered floors amid claims of “public intoxication,” resulted in two TABC agents being fired, three Forth Worth police officers being suspended and over $600,000 in compensation paid by the city to avoid lawsuits.
The raid was later turned into a documentary entitled Raid on the Rainbow Lounge.