Former NRL star devastated after fire at tavern
MILL Street Tavern owner Jason Smith has been left "devastated" after his beloved pub was gutted by flames.
The ex-rugby league star and his wife Janelle are still reeling from the fire, which started on Sunday about 11.30pm and quickly consumed the entire building.
Fire crews and police are continuing their investigations into the fire, with the area around the building still cordoned off to the public late yesterday.
No one was inside when the fire broke out.
Close friend of the Smiths and Toowoomba Chronicle journalist Peter Hardwick said the couple were thinking of their customers and regulars during this sad time.
"I've spoken to them and they feel so terrible for the customers that they had made bookings with," he said.
"They're devastated and they feel terrible for regulars and customers.
"This is their life and as devastated as we are (as regulars), that's their life."
The venue, which was a popular place for business parties and functions, was booked up until January.
"They've got bookings for parties here up until Christmas," Mr Hardwick said.
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"They can't fulfil the obligations of the bookings, because they haven't even got records of the people to contact them.
"Jason and Janelle just can't contact them and they were booked solid into the New Year."
Despite the tragedy, Mr Hardwick said the couple was determined to re-build the iconic venue.
"They want to be back in business as soon as they can," he said.
Darling Downs Acting Detective Inspector Paul McCusker said it would take time to reveal the cause.
He said investigators spent yesterday testing the stability of the structure, before continuing their inquiries.
He confirmed police were first on the scene on Sunday night after noticing the flames during a regular patrol.
"On arrival (at the scene last night), police observed that the premises were well alight.
"Police attempted to enter premises to ensure no one was inside.
"Queensland Fire and Emergency Services attended and extinguished the fire."
The pub was Mr Hardwick's regular watering hole, who said it had always been a welcoming place for anyone.
"It was a good pub - I don't know what I'm going to do now," he said.
"We called the bottom bar 'Cheers', because it was like the TV show bar - we'd have a laugh and it was just an old-fashioned pub.
"It was a fun place, and it's very sad to see it go."