Karma Nightclub and Cabaret is a shell of a brick wall and broken windows coated in icicles after a four-alarm fire that started around 7:15 Saturday night. The fire took two hours to contain and firefighters worked all night monitoring hot spots.

The cause of the fire is unknown, as the investigation will have to wait until the frozen water has melted. Fire officials said the building could be a total loss.

"It might take up to two weeks," fire inspector Don Gross said Sunday afternoon. "It's just a block of ice right now."

Owner Kyle Braun said he's waiting to get more information but right now, all he can think about is the memories his club helped create.

"Though the physical structure is no longer there the memories will carry on," he said.

No one was injured in the fire. The two employees in the club at the time both escaped from the building by 7:30 p.m., when flames were seen coming from the club at 226 S. Ninth St.

Around 8:15 p.m., firefighters began to take defensive positions around the perimeter of the club and at 8:25 they began to form a collapse zone around the structure.

Within minutes, the roof collapsed and heavy smoke came pouring out.

The fire caused a power outage around 8:40 p.m., affecting customers in the areas from Seventh to 20th streets and L to P streets.

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Street and traffic lights in the area were not working for a time.

Bystanders suggested the fire likely started near the stage.

A group of performers and frequent patrons gathered across the street from the club, hugging and wiping tears. 

"It's like watching a part of my life burn away," said Bryan Ruhs, who DJs for the club. 

Karma — then called The Q — was the first gay bar Ruhs ever walked into. "I was 18 and had just come out," he said. "It was the first time I felt like I didn't have to hide myself. It was my — our — home."

Ruhs's voice cracked as the tears came. A friend embraced Ruhs.

"And now it's gone."

-- Mara Klecker

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