July 23, 2019 6:00 am

‘Astronomical’ loss of musical equipment in warehouse fire, but artists vow to move forward

The fire burns on Jarvis Avenue.

Greg Mackling/Global News

The devastating fire that leveled a North End warehouse early Monday morning didn’t only destroy a building the size of a city block, it also potentially affected the livelihood of a number of Winnipeg musicians, artists and entrepreneurs.

Among the tenants at 274 Jarvis Ave. was a rehearsal and recording space used by a half-dozen Winnipeg bands, who lost untold thousands of dollars in instruments and equipment.

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The space was primarily used for heavy music, by punk, hardcore and metal bands like Witchtrip, Ceilings, Dreadnaut, Long Term Enemy, and more.

READ MORE: Warehouse as big as a city block on fire in Winnipeg’s North End

Guitarist Josh Bedry – who lost amplifiers, a bike, and personal items in the blaze – told 680 CJOB that the 15 or so musicians who used the space also lost a priceless gathering spot.

“There were hours and hours poured into rehearsing, recording, writing… just hanging out,” said Bedry.

“The equipment, that’s astronomically expensive, but we also lost our gathering spot.”

Bedry, who lives near the warehouse and said he could hear the blaze from his bedroom, said the loose collective of artists, many of whom play in each other’s bands, also used the spot as a place to store personal effects.

Sound engineer Michael Wagner told 680 CJOB he lost a lifetime of equipment in the fire, and is currently scrambling to find replacement gear before he has to head out on tour.

“I lost stuff that I bought and paid for, for years and years – my entire adult life,” he said.

“I lost a couple of vintage guitars, all of my recording equipment, multiple drum sets, and the list goes on and on.”

Wagner said some of his equipment was insured, but he won’t be getting back anywhere near what he put in to his collection, and many of the others who used the facility had no insurance whatsoever.

“It’ll cover the essential things I need to do my job, because I’m a sound engineer by trade, and I lost all of my tools.

“I have stuff that I travel with, with bands, and I have a tour coming up but I have no equipment. Right now, I’m sitting here trying to re-acquire it on eBay.”

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Both Wagner and Bedry said they’ve been overwhelmed by the support coming from Winnipeg’s tight-knit music community. Friends, family and fellow artists have reached out and offered replacement equipment, new rehearsal spots, and more.

A GoFundMe fundraiser was also launched Monday afternoon in an attempt to help the artists buy new equipment, and at least one potential benefit concert is in the works as well.

“This is not the end of any of our projects, or our small community,” said Bedry. “We will move forward.”

Tara Everett, owner of Canoe Coworking, told 680 CJOB that she was set to open her business – Manitoba’s first Indigenous-run collaborative working environment – within three months.

Everett’s business was going to occupy the entire third floor of the massive building, about 20,000 square feet.

“I got the call at about 7:30 this morning from a really close friend and mentor of mine asking if I’d seen the news.

“I live really nearby so within 15 minutes I was on site and even then I knew that the building was a complete loss.”

“The people at the core are the small and mid-sized business owners who were looking forward to coming into a community space where they could do good work with other people and collaborate and share.”

WATCH: Fire on Jarvis Avenue

The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) gave an update Monday afternoon, confirming that the remainder of the building was being demolished as the structure was unstable.

WFPS expects the work to take some time to safely accomplish, and that there will be ongoing smoke concerns for nearby residents.

The fire’s cause remains under investigation, and no damage estimates are yet available.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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