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Iconic Miramichi theatre among buildings destroyed by fire, others damaged

Click to play video: 'Miramichi fire destroys several buildings, damages others'
Miramichi fire destroys several buildings, damages others
WATCH: Miramichi fire destroys several buildings, damages others – Aug 9, 2020

An iconic building with a lot of history has gone up in flames in Miramichi, N.B.

Crews were forced to demolish the Vogue Theatre in Chatham after an early morning fire broke out in a nearby building. While the brick walls remained standing early on, the fire damage made the building structurally unsafe, said Mario Berthiaume, the deputy chief of the Miramichi Fire Department.

“Up until the year 2000, it was the daily-run movie theatre for Miramichi city or Chatham area here,” said EastSide Church pastor Victor Somers. “EastSide Church purchased the building in 2012. And really, it was our goal to give it back to the city.”

EastSide Church pastor Victor Somers says he awoke to news the Vogue Theatre had caught fire early Sunday morning. Callum Smith / Global News

Somers said the congregation was preparing for Sunday service, but instead, he woke up to news that the approximately 70-year-old building was engulfed in flames.

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“It was very quickly becoming the arts and culture centre of the city as well,” he said. “We had hosted lots of great musicians, stand-up comedy, drama. … It was a very active building.”

Somers said he appreciates all the community support since the fire. A lot of effort has gone into the building, he added.

“I think I’m a little numb right now. I put a lot of time and effort — as my family has as well, my wife and my son — into this project.

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The loss also hit home for Miramichi MLA Michelle Conroy.

“The Vogue Theatre is something that’s close to my heart; one of my first jobs growing up as a teenager,” she said in an interview.

“It’s just complete devastation that we lose another amazing building in our city.”

But it wasn’t just the theatre that was destroyed.

The Miramichi Fire Department had all hands on deck, including support from neighbouring Sunny Corner, said Berthiaume. They were called at about 4:10 a.m. for a residential structure fire at a family dwelling.

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Berthiaume said six buildings were damaged.

Mario Berthiaume, the deputy chief of the Miramichi Fire Department, said six buildings were damaged — three were a total loss. Callum Smith / Global News

“We’re looking at three structures that are a total loss,” he said to Global News.

One of those was a large storage building.

“You would find (antique) vehicles in there and assorted inventory items,” he said. “Those types of buildings contain a high fire load, which explains a lot of the intensity of the fire and the efforts needed to suppress the fire.”

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As for where the fire started, the fire marshal investigation is focusing on a home that was vacant at the time, Berthiaume said.

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No injuries were reported.

That’s a big positive in an otherwise awful day, said Somers.

“A great stand-up comedian, James Mullinger, was getting ready to play here next month.”

The congregation owns a neighbouring building, which means they’ll have a place to continue church service, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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