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The Old Bali Blog « Ashes to ashes: Devastating fire at Clear Cafe on Ubud's Jalan Hanuman

If you were thinking of hanging out over a kombucha this afternoon at Clear Café, you can't. A quick, massive blaze ripped through the wood-and-thatch Jalan Hanuman landmark on 20th November 2014, razing it to an empty shell within 30 minutes.

No-one was hurt or killed, but strong winds and an ongoing drought made sure that at least five neighbouring family compounds were also burnt to the ground.

A manager who was working at the time of the fire tells her story:

- "It started at 9.30am. A burning incense stick set light to cloth on the prayer stand near the kitchen, and at first the staff tried to put it out. But it immediately spread to the [wooden] floor above where we kept dried foods and cooking oil, and within minutes the fire was huge upstairs. I ran up to see if anybody was there; there was nothing but flames.

The fish were boiled alive in the pond. I spent an hour trying to calm members of staff who were gathered outside, crying. Then I 'phoned my mum and burst into tears."

She also claims that an eyewitness saw a burning cockerel fly onto the duk - dark thatch - roof of a nearby family temple, spreading the blaze. All in all, a particularly inauspicious tragedy that has affected scores of Clear Café staff and several dozen neighbours.

It appears that the expatriate owners didn't have insurance, a sprinkler system or any fire extinguishers - in a two-storey, highly-flammable wooden structure situated in a densely-populated part of town that saw hundreds of high-paying customers pass through its doors every week.

Clear Café's management are keeping tight-lipped, and are yet to step up to the damage caused to their neighbours' properties.

But the word is that Clear Café will be rebuilt.

That seems about as unlucky as building the new One World Trade Center on top of the Twin Towers wreck.

The phoenix may rise again...


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