7:05am: The phone rings, and it’s my neighbor (with whom I also share a practice space called “the Jambox”). “Um, there was a fire at the Jambox last night and it sounds like it was a bad one. I’m not sure if any of our equipment survived, but maybe you could go down and check it out.”
7:40am: I arrived at the Jambox, and there were some other musicians out there taking pictures and video of the exterior of the building to document the damage. I found out the fire happened last night around 8pm. One of the studios (i.e., practice rooms) started smoldering due to what most think was an electrical fire. One of the musicians smelled smoke as he was going out to grab a cigarette. He said he turned around after passing one of the studio doors and that’s when he saw quite a lot of smoke coming out. Because it was Thursday night, the place was packed with bands rehearsing for weekend gigs, so there were about 50 people in the building. He said he started running from room to room “kicking in doors” to tell people to get out. Luckily, they all got out. And then the place just erupted in flames. Over 10 fire trucks responded and firefighters were eventually able to get control of the fire and put it out. No one was hurt, but a lot of equipment was torched.
When I got there, this is pretty much what I saw:
The place was boarded up, but someone had opened the front door. I figured since fire crews let tenants in after the blaze was out to recover equipment the night before, it was okay to go in. I wasn’t sure if anything was left since most of the upstairs rooms looked like this:
When I finally got to our space, I was amazed that everything was in pretty good shape:
The ceiling was punched through by the fire department, and some of our equipment was knocked over. To the right of my drum kit is a stage monitor that was on a speaker stand, and you can see the insulation and bits of ceiling dangling. The floor was naturally soaked through and through, but overall everything looked okay.
We were extremely lucky. I was speaking to another drummer who had lost everything, and when we got to his room, this is pretty much all that was left:
I was able to break down my drums and put them in the traveling cases. I also got all the amps and cables sorted and ready to move out when the county inspector came in and basically kicked me out. He said they had to conduct an investigation and were gong to seal the building so no other musicians (or anyone else, for that mater) would come in. I told him I was worried about looting since my room was one of the few that had undamaged equipment left. He said he understood, but they were going to block all the entrances so no one could get in a loot the place. I left for a bit and then returned to the Jambox later in the day to check on things. The county inspector was still there and said that it looks like we won’t be able to get in there until Tuesday. The inspector said that the city basically “shut him down” by deeming the building unsafe to enter, so that’s why no one can get in there to salvage whatever equipment is left. It sucks, but I understand that the city wants to check everything before letting anyone in so no one gets hurt … and then sues for damages.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my drums. I’ve been contemplating selling them since I lost my job, but right now I think I’ll just put them in storage until I figure out what I’m going to do. In the meantime, if you want to read the newspaper account of what happened, you can HERE.