Nfld. & Labrador

Fire at Majestic Theatre in downtown St. John's has groups scrambling for new venue

St. John's Regional Fire Department appears to have a fire under control at the Majestic Theatre, after hours of working to extinguish flames at the newly reopened facility.

Sections of Duckworth Street, New Gower Street closed to traffic, power cut to surrounding neighbourhood

Fire crews were still tending to the fire at the Majestic Theatre at 8 a.m. Wednesday. Crews were first called to the scene just before 4:30 a.m. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

St. John's Regional Fire Department appears to have a fire under control at the Majestic Theatre in St. John's, after hours of working to calm the smoke and flames at the newly reopened facility.

Sections of Duckworth Street and New Gower Street were closed in the area surrounding the theatre and fire crews were using a ladder truck to check the roof. Electricity had also been cut to the surrounding neighbourhood.

30 firefighters responded, no injuries

St. John's Regional Fire Department platoon chief Robert Fowler said there were no injures from the fire, and said 25 or 30 firefighters responded to the scene early Wednesday morning.

Fowler said the fire was small at first and started on the outside of the building, but eventually it spread to the inside of the walls and began spreading upwards through different spaces in the theatre. He said the flames followed the chimney up to the roof of the building.

"That was our biggest concern, that it didn't get up and into the roof and across the roof," Fowler told CBC around 8:30 a.m. "We're pretty close to saying we've got it under control."

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said it is investigating to determine the cause of the fire.

Peter Newman, the executive director of the Majestic, was standing on the road, watching smoke billow out of theatre, which had been recently renovated and had its official opening on Sept 25.

The smoke and flames appear to be on the opposite side of the theatre from where all of the facility's audio-visual equipment is stored, so Newman is hopeful at least something was spared damage.

"Hopefully the damage is reduced to this side of the wall," he said. "Earlier there was considerable smoke so that may big the bigger issue, the water and smoke damage."

Events scheduled to take place at the Majestic are already finding new homes, including several shows part of MusicNL Week 2017.

The Newfound Talent Show on Oct. 11 has been moved to the Masonic Temple, according to MusicNL. The organization is working on finding a new spot for its gospel show and songwriter's circle.

"It's unfortunate, as we were looking forward to using the beautifully refurbished building but we are troubleshooting as quickly as humanly possible," said MusicNL Executive Director Glenda Tulk in a statement late Wednesday morning.

"[We] hope for speedy renovations as this type and size of venue is really needed in the downtown core," the statement added.

More than 25 firefighters from three different stations responded to the fire at the Majestic Theatre Wednesday morning. (CBC)

The alarm was reported around 4:30 a.m. and firefighters found a small fire outside the theatre when they arrived. They put it out, but continued to check inside and outside the building to find the source of smoke.

Shortly after 5:45 a.m., Newfoundland Power shut off electricity around in the area around the building so it could extend the ladder further over the roof to get to the fire.

A section of the Majestic Theatre, near the building's chimney, was visibly damaged Wednesday morning following an early morning fire. (CBC)
Fire crews had a water hose concentrated on the east side of the Majestic Theatre building Wednesday morning, trying to extinguish a fire that was first reported around 4:30 a.m. (Twitter/@juanitamcritch)
After months of renovations, the Majestic Theatre had its official reopening on Sept. 25. Peter Newman (far right) helped cut the ribbon at the official opening of the new facility. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)

With files from Mark Quinn and St. John's Morning Show

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