The owner of a Leamington bar is devastated after fire ripped through his business early Wednesday morning.

André Orvat told CBC News the Sunset Club was his "heart and soul." Distraught, he declined to say much more.

The bar, formerly and still commonly known as the Village Inn, underwent extensive renovations approximately three years ago.

Flames were first spotted around 5:30 a.m.

Dan Bailey was the bar's head of security. He lived above the club.

He said a knock at the door woke him and his girlfriend not long after fire broke out.

"I grabbed my cat, my girlfriend and my rat and got out safely," he said.

By the time Bailey made his way from the second floor to the street, fire had spread throughout the building.

"I ran out with my cat, my girlfriend had the rat ... I looked up and saw orange and yellow and black smoke pouring out of the building. I knew at that moment, we were homeless," he said."I’m in complete shock. I don’t know what I’ll do next. I have to look for a new job, a new place to live. It’s pretty scary."

Flames could still be seen shooting from the roof at 7 a.m. — nearly two hours after the fire started.

Firefighters from Leamington, Lakeshore and Kingsville had the fire well under control by about 8 a.m.

Damage inside the building is extensive. A cause and damage estimate are not yet known.

Todd Bell is the acting Det. Sgt for the Essex County OPP crime unit. He said on scene it was much too early to comment.