Historic building destroyed in Templeton blaze

A fire at the Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall was reported late Wednesday evening. No one was injured, but the building was a total loss, according to fire officials.

A fire at the Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall was reported late Wednesday evening. No one was injured, but the building was a total loss, according to fire officials. PHOTO BY BRYAN FAVREAU

Ten area fire departments sent mutual aid to a fire at the Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall Wednesday evening.

Ten area fire departments sent mutual aid to a fire at the Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall Wednesday evening. PHOTO BY BRYAN FAVREAU

The Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall, which dates back to 1880, was destroyed in a five-alarm fire.

The Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall, which dates back to 1880, was destroyed in a five-alarm fire. PHOTO BY BRYAN FAVREAU

By MAX BOWEN

Athol Daily News Editor

Published: 09-28-2023 3:48 PM

TEMPLETON — A building dating back to the 1880s was destroyed in a five-alarm fire late Wednesday night, drawing firefighters from around the region.

According to Templeton Fire Chief Dave Dickie, a call was made at 10:08 p.m. reporting the fire at the Otter River Pub and Red Onion Pool Hall on Main Street in the village of Baldwinville. When firefighters arrived, Dickie said they saw smoke coming out the front of the building and fire on the left side.

According to the Red Onion’s Facebook page, a songwriting contest was being held inside the venue. The building was quickly evacuated and no patrons were injured, nor were any firefighters. Dickie said the fire went from a second alarm to a fifth alarm, bringing in mutual aid from 10 surrounding communities.

“We put everyone to work and it was brought under control in a few hours,” Dickie said, adding that crews remained on the scene until 2:30 a.m.

Dickie said the building the roof and building were destroyed. As of Thursday morning, he said fire appears to have been accidental, though it is still under investigation.

That same evening, water main breaks were reported on Baker Lane at Patriots Road and Carruth Road at Brooks Village, according to Templeton Police. Dickie said these were ongoing at the time of the fire but didn’t hamper firefighting efforts, as they were on the other side of town. 

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A post to the bar’s Facebook page made on Thursday morning expressed thanks to the various fire departments who responded as well as for the outpouring of support since last night. The bar and pool hall had just reopened on Sept. 20 after an extended closure. 

“We may have lost a building but no one was injured and all of our amazing memories will live on forever,” the post read. “We battled back to keep this place alive because it was more than a bar. It was a meeting place for people of all kinds and for all reasons since 1880. That is worth fighting for and that is why there is so much love and history.”

Max Bowen can be reached at 413-930-4074 or at mbowen@recorder.com.