Update (10:25 a.m.): MLive.com reports that the building is likely a total loss. 

An early morning blaze that started in the rear of the iconic Corner Bar in Rockford was intensified when a gas line explosion drove back firefighters.

It's a Rockford area tradition, your friend will grab you and take you to the Corner Bar downtown to see if you can eat your way into the Hot Dog Hall of Fame. The challenge is easy to spell out, but hard to do: knock back 12 Corner Chili Dogs and your name goes up on the wall. Fail and you get nothing.

I made it to eight once. But here's hoping I'll get another chance one day.

The iconic bar, located in the oldest brick structure in Rockford, was severely damaged by an early morning fire Monday. The fire was complicated when it ignited a gas line in the building causing an explosion which drove firefighters back for a bit.

Rockford Fire Chief Dave Jones told WOOD-TV 8 News that the crews fighting the blaze in the basement got out in the nick of time, “We’re very, very happy and luckily they were able to get out of the building before that explosion."

“This is a devastating loss for the city of Rockford. Everyone knows the Corner Bar is a destination. Everyone I talk to that talks about the city of Rockford, they talk about we drive up here to go to the Corner Bar. So, certainly it’s a devastating loss,” he added.

FOX 17 News has additional photos of firefighters battling the blaze here.

The Corner Bar released a statement on their Facebook page Monday morning, assuring their patrons that they will "continue our fine history of serving the Rockford community just as soon as we get things sorted."