FAIRFIELD, CA - A 5-alarm blaze ripped through a landmark building and destroyed a popular comedy club in downtown Fairfield on Texas Street Friday night.
Pepperbelly has had been growing a reputation as a place where some of the hottest comedians came to make people laugh. The owners are now vowing to rebuild the club.
Firefighters and investigators were on scene Saturday as crews worked to secure the gutted building.
It took crews nearly five hours to knock down the fire Friday night. Flames erupted just before 7 p.m. The fire chief said the blaze may have started inside the comedy club.
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Fortunately, only a handful of people were there. The fire happened about half-an-hour before doors opened to the public. Usually, there would be as many as 200 patrons inside.
Supporters said the club means a lot to Fairfield.
"People like to laugh and forget about their problems," Fairfield Resident Tameshia Harmon said. "That's why we'd come here. So, it's a huge loss."
"Finally, it started to get better, better, better day by day. We had sold out shows," Club Owner Taranbir Dhanoa said. "All big names and movie stars started coming. Charlie Murphy came here last week; it was sold out. We had John Witherspoon; it was sold out."
The comedy club didn't just draw big names, it brought in big bucks to help the community heal whenever it was touched by tragedy.
"When there was the CHP officer was tragically shot, there was a fundraiser right here for the weekend, not just for one night. When the fisherman lost his life, a local fisherman, a fundraiser (was held) right here for his family," comedian Dennis Gaxiola said. "Anytime there's a tragedy in the local area, they open the doors to do fund-raising. They're just great people."
Dhanoa said he's doing what he can to rebuild.
"I will try to give whatever I used to give to community and bring something to Solano," Dhanoa said.
By Suzanne Phan, email@example.com