BUTTE — An iconic building that stood in the heart of Butte for 130 years was reduced to a hollow shell in one morning.
Flames were reported coming out of the roof of the M&M Bar and Café at 9 North Main Street early Friday morning, May 7, 2021.
“We made access, never really found the seed of the fire, it had been burning way too long, I believe it’s probably in the ductwork, which spread it out throughout the building,” said Butte Fire Battalion Chief Jim Merrifield.
Firefighters attacked it with their ladder truck and prevented it from spreading to neighboring buildings to the north and south. The fire had advanced too far to save the historic M&M.
“These old buildings they’re remodeled so many times, so many different walls, it’s tough for our guys, we lost the stairway early, so we couldn’t get up to the next story,” said Merrifield.
The owner of the building next to the M&M said it was heartbreaking to see the iconic building burn.
“This is a sad, sad day for Butte, you know the M&M is not just a building, it’s a part of Butte’s history and culture and I just feel terrible for Selina and her team to have to go through this, it’s just terrible,” said Tom Cronnell who owns an adjacent building.
Many bystanders watched in shock as the building burned.
“Anybody who knows this town and knows the M&M knows the history behind it and the sadness we’re all facing as a town today,” said Butte resident Barb Clark.
While no one was injured in the fire, Butte Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher said having a beloved landmark being a total loss in a fire is almost like losing a family member.
“People think of Butte, they can’t mention Butte without talking about the M&M, it’s just iconic, it’s world-renowned and it’s just such a loss to our community,” said Gallagher.
While all fires are a tragedy, this one is particularly bad because this is such an iconic structure in Butte, but city officials say they’re going to do whatever they can to rebuild this landmark.
“Right now, it’s hard to take it all in, like I said, I know the community will rally around Selina, we’ll do what we can to, you know, help rebuild the M&M,” said Gallagher.
The M&M put this post on its Facebook page, "The show must go on. I’m at a loss for words right now, but that phrase keeps playing in my head. Thank you for all the support. I know this loss is shared by the entire community and together we will bring the M&M back once again."