Fire damages Rude Guerrilla Theater Company building

Dave Barton, Artistic Director of the Rude Guerrilla Theater Company (and frequent Weekly contributor), posted these two messages on his personal blog about a nasty Saturday morning fire that damaged the downtown Santa Ana building which houses RGTC (reprinted with permission):

"Oh, God...Rude Guerrilla’s burning down!" The phone is ringing at 6:00 am and the first thing I think as I'm startled awake is that someone has died. Fortunately, that's not the case. Seems instead that there was a fire upstairs in the Empire Building where we rent our space. Sprinklers went off, flooded the second floor, which then poured through any available cracks in the flooring, down to our ceiling, creating an inch tall pond where Rude Guerrilla's stage and lobby used to be. Firemen look on our website because there's no posted emergency number on our front door, fire alarms have gone off and water is flooding out the front door onto the pavement outside. They see on the website that David Beatty is teaching an acting class, so they call him, wake him up and then think they haven't actually reached him, turn off their phone (they think) and put the phone in their pocket. So the phone's still on, David's saying "Hello? Hello? Can anyone hear me?" as he hears fire engine alarms, hears someone shouting, "Get the ax! Smash in the door!" and he's thinking ""Oh, God...Rude Guerrilla's burning down!" And as he shouts into the phone and hears the splintering of wood and the shattering of glass, he jumps in his car and calls Jay and then Jay calls me. I show up fifteen minutes later. Water is everywhere...the theater smells wet and it feels like summer in Miami: sticky and fetid. The "Helltown Buffet" set is water-damaged and the bottoms of the curtains soaked, but only a handful of seats are wet, amazingly enough. It look so bad that I can only imagine what would have happened if the sprinklers inside our area of the building had gone off. As I enter, in the darkness, a bright floor light stands amid the water, David is talking to a fireman and every mop, trash can and garbage pail is full of a brown, brackish liquid as burly guys in yellow pants sweep away the water. The lighting grid is dripping and I rush to flip off the electricity that's still being sent to the light boxes before we get a spark and the lights short-out and explode. I call our insurance broker twice (no answer), call the building's management office (closed), call their emergency number (answering machine) and call ServePro, whose job it is to come into water and fire-damaged areas and clean up. They're the only ones that actually answer and tell me someone will be there within the hour. I call Jay back and fill him in. I call Dawn asking advice on how to repair the busted door. I call Aurelio and we laugh and decide that "Helltown" is now officially cursed. ServePro tells me that we're shut down for the next 2 to 5 days because of the damage and necessary repairs. Jay calls Sharyn and tells her that "Our Town" rehearsals will need to be somewhere else for the next few days. Vicki moves our planned Board meeting on Sunday to her apartment. It's now 12:30 and I've been here for six hours...I'm exhausted as hell and have no idea what will happen next.

----------------------- Water Damage

Typing Sunday morning as the Servpro guys are punching holes in the dry wall to see if it's still wet. Still wet, despite high force fans and dryers--as well as our heating system--on for the past 24 hours. I'm waiting for the final verdict, but so far the answer seems to be yep, it's still wet. I could tell that even before they got here...the reek alone as I walked in the back door told me that things were damp enough for there to be a mold concern. And, as the building management told me yesterday, "We have insurance, so do what you have to." So what I thought was going to take a half hour--with plans to then go to my last Board meeting for two months--means three hours and no Board meeting. Instead...a MySpace blog! Everything is currently being moved to the center--offices emptied, seats removed, platforms turned on their sides and it's looking like the bottom couple inches of each piece of drywall is going to be cut out and removed... As someone who commented on the previous blog least no one got injured (a good thing), the building has insurance (another good thing) and it doesn't involve our insurance so far (another good thing). Let the mess begin."

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