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WATERLOO, Ill. – A fire broke out at a well-known bakery in the Metro East area, which left heavy damage to the business.

Firefighters responded to flames around 8 p.m. on Sunday in the 200 block of West Mill Street, which is located in downtown Waterloo.

The owner of Ahne’s bakery, Jeff Ahne, said he is in shock.

“Right now, it seems overwhelming to me. I have not decided what to do or what needed to be done yet,” Ahne said.

Authorities said flames were shooting from the back of the business when Waterloo firefighters arrived on the scene. Other first responders also raced to the scene, including the Waterloo Police Department, Monroe County EMS, and the Columbia Fire Department.

“When I got here, the fire department was already here putting the fire out,” Ahne said.

The bakery has been serving the Metro East for 50 years. Ahne’s parents, Michael and Jean, opened Ahne’s Bakery in 1973 in downtown Waterloo. Since 2015, Jeff has owned and operated the bakery. He said the past three years have been difficult with the pandemic, the loss of his mother, and now the weekend fire.

“One bad thing happen every year,” Jeff said. “Now this, hopefully moving forward, it goes better. We are keeping positive, maybe we can stay open for another 50 years.”

Authorities said the fire was under control quickly after they arrived, but significant damage was already done.

The bakery was closed when the fire broke out. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. There were no reports of any injuries.

The owner said he plans to remodel and re-open.