January 23, 2020

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'Salvage efforts are likely going to be minimal'

Warehouse fire leaves little but pile of rubble; arts community scrambling

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/7/2019 (184 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Thirty-two hours after they first arrived on scene, Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service crews continued to prod the smouldering rubble of a North End warehouse.

PHOTO BY ROBIN WREGGITT 

Firefighters are silhouetted by the blaze.   The cause of the fire is not yet known.

PHOTO BY ROBIN WREGGITT Firefighters are silhouetted by the blaze. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

During a news conference Tuesday, across from the remains of the 2 1/2-storey structure at 274 Jarvis St., WFPS Chief John Lane told reporters the last firefighters cleared out before 9 a.m., having been on scene since 12:43 a.m. Monday.

However, due to the size of the blaze — reports put the building at 83,000 square feet, taking up nearly a city block — the chief said crews will continue to periodically check the site for hot spots.

"Typically in a conflagration like this, the consumption of content is 100 per cent," Lane said. "Salvage efforts are likely going to be minimal."

He said control of the site is now in the hands of the building's insurance company.

Power was cut Monday when the building's collapse threatened neighbourhood lines, but a Manitoba Hydro spokesperson confirmed Tuesday it had been fully restored to the area.

No damage estimates were as of yet available — nor was the potential cause of the inferno that also turned the livelihoods of artists, musicians, craftsmen and small-business owners to ash.

GOOGLE, MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

The warehouse at 274 Jarvis is seen in October 2018 on Google Streetview (top) and Tuesday.

GOOGLE, MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The warehouse at 274 Jarvis is seen in October 2018 on Google Streetview (top) and Tuesday.

Arts fundraisers launched

The fire was a massive blow to the Winnipeg arts community, destroying equipment, businesses, and, in some cases, life's work. One performing artist who shared studio space in the building described Monday as "an unforeseen kidney punch when you're already down."

In its wake, the community was rallying to help raise those affected, including the launch of at least three GoFundMe campaigns.

"Thankfully, no lives were lost. However, the loss — of artwork, collections, archival material, supplies and tools — for all the affected artists is devastating, for their practices, their livelihoods, and for Canadian art," states the fundraising webpage titled "274 Jarvis Ave — Artist Relief," organized by Border Crossings magazine, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art.

By just after 3 p.m. Tuesday, it had raised more than $46,000 of its $250,000 goal.

Fundraising webpage "Warehouse Fire Threatens Musician Livelihood," organized by Trish Roche (whose partner, Robert Burton, is one of the affected musicians), aims to help bands (such as El Diablo, Witchtrip and Dreadnaut) who lost instruments and other gear.

It had raised $2,483 of its $75,000 goal, with other fundraising events being planned.

"While some of the musicians had insurance, it's not nearly enough to cover their losses, and some use the gear that was inside to make a living," the GoFundMe page states.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Visual artist Paul Robles lost his life's work in the blaze.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Visual artist Paul Robles lost his life's work in the blaze.

Another campaign, "Have a Heart for Art," was organized specifically for artist Paul Robles, who lost 25 years of his work in the fire. The campaign had so far raised $450 of its $5,000 goal.

The Free Press even received a list of instruments and equipment Tuesday from a citizen looking to donate or sell at a discount to affected musicians.

Aside from material losses, many artists lost their working spaces, prompting Jonathan Tkachuk of Tkachuk Realty Group Ltd. to contact the Free Press about a building in Osborne Village that could help fill the void.

"As a Winnipegger, I understand that it can really impact the tenants' lives over there, in terms of their ability to make money, and their music and their art," Tkachuk said.

nicholas.frew@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @n_frew

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