CALLENDER - The Bohemian Hall, the site of dances since 1939, was destroyed in a Friday night fire that sent clouds of flame billowing into the sky and showered some of the surrounding area with blazing embers.
The fire at the dance hall at 2601 Johnson Ave. in rural Webster County was reported at about 9:45 p.m. By 10:30 p.m., burning sections of the roof began falling, forcing firefighters to move back.
At least four hoselines and a stream of water from a large nozzle atop a Callender fire truck were directed onto the flames.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Flames leap from the Bohemian Hall in rural Webster County late Friday night.
Water was brought to the scene in tanker trucks. There were no hydrants nearby.
State troopers at the scene said the fire was reported by someone who was driving by and saw smoke.
There were no events going on in the hall when the fire was reported.
Firefighters from Callender, Otho, Moorland, Harcourt and Gowrie responded. Webster County sheriff's deputies and Iowa State Patrol troopers were also on the scene.
The Bohemian Hall was built southwest of Fort Dodge in 1897 by a group of Czech farmers. Until its purchase by Richard Woodard in 2006, the building was owned by the Western Fraternal Life Association, Fort Dodge Lodge 39 of Zapadni Cesko-Bratrska Jednota. Published reports say the first public dance was held in 1939.