Ozark Opry catches fire, still structurally sound

The Ozark Opry caught fire late Sunday morning.

A fire damaged a Lake of the Ozarks landmark.

A police officer noticed flames coming from the Lee Mace Ozark Opry shortly after 11:00 a.m. Sunday.

Firefighters first saw flames coming from the roof of the Lee Mace Ozark Opry building and heavy smoke coming from the back. They used extra precaution as they fought flames above them in the theater's attic. The crews also cut ventilation holes in the roof to release heat and locate the fire.

It took firefighters about two hours to get the flames under control. The building, which had a new metal roof and complete utilities. still has structural integrity despite heavy smoke and water damage.

Officials said the fire started in the front of the building in a small storage area above the ticket counter. They determined an extension cord plugged into a CD recording device used to record the shows was the cause of the fire.

Osage Beach Fire Chief Jeff Dorhauer said, "The family did still keep a lot of stuff in this building from the days when it operated as an opry."

Lee and Joyce Mace offered entertainment at the Ozark Opry for 53 years. Lee Mace passed away in 1985, and Joyce continued to operate the theatre until 2005. Joyce was in church when she got the news about the fire.

Joyce's nephew, Danny Cochran, worked at the opry for more than 30 years. He and his wife were the only couple ever married in the Ozark Opry. Cochran told his aunt the opry was on fire during her Sunday services before driving her to the theatre.

Cochran said, "She's OK. She's a strong lady. She's an extraordinary lady. She's just one of a kind."

Gene Williams is a relative of Joyce Mace and handles her business matters. Williams said the loss of the opry turns another page in Lake of the Ozarks history book.

Williams said, "It's one of those, I still can't believe it, kind of losses. It's an icon in the community. It's an historic landmark building. It's a major loss. It's quite significant to the community as well as the family."

The Ozark Opry TV show ran for many years on KRCG 13.