Jitterbugs Burns Down

The 1,700-capacity Jitterbugs nightclub in Nacogdoches, Texas, burned to the ground April 30th after passing motorists discovered the blaze that morning.

Club co-owner Robert Y’Barbo described the Saturday night at Jitterbugs as “a slow night,” and said he had no idea what might have caused the fire, according to the city’s Daily Sentinel.

“One of the biggest problems with nightclub fires is trash cans,” Y’Barbo said, meaning that club patrons often toss cigarettes into them. “We’re really careful about that. We throw out the trash every night.”

When asked if they planned to rebuild, Robert and Bubba Y’Barbo were reportedly at a loss for words.

“We’ll see,” Robert Y’Barbo told the paper. “Just about every major act in the country has played here. A lot of performers played here before they hit it big.”

The club, which was built in 1993, had at least two shows on the books – Jason Boland & The Stragglers on May 4th and Jarrod Birmingham on May 12th. Cross Canadian Ragweedd sold out the club last year and some of its visitors in the mid-’90s include Willie Nelson, Tracy Byrd and Merle Haggard.

Reports of white and black smoke coming from the large metal building sent firefighters from the Nacogdoches Fire Department and volunteers from throughout the county to battle the blaze.

“There was heavy smoke when the first engine arrived on the scene,” NFD Captain Terry Westmoreland told the paper. “We made an attempt at an interior attack, but once two crews went inside, we saw that the fire had already advanced, and we couldn’t put enough water on it. We had to pull out and make a defensive attack and fight from the outside.”

He added that the metal structure of the venue made the fight difficult.

The cause of the fire hadn’t been determined at press time, but Westmoreland reportedly said there was no initial information or evidence to cause authorities to believe the blaze had been intentionally set. No injuries were reported.

Westmoreland said routine inspections were made at the nightclub at the owners’ request.

“The state fire marshal regulates codes in the county,” he told the paper. “But once a month, we inspect all clubs and high-occupancy restaurants in the city, and at Robert’s request, and as a courtesy to him, we would stop out here.

“With a place of this size, and with as many people as this building could hold, they did a good job. … Robert kept the business right in line (regarding safety).”