Theatre operated for 32 years
Meanwhile, Oates said everything was fine when they left the theatre building around 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 24, about half-an-hour after the movie “The Help” ended.
About 11:15 p.m. Oates recalled, “a friend called me to ask me if I knew the theatre was on fire.”
About 20 to 25 of the theatre’s 200 seats had been filled that night.
The blaze broke out in an upstairs section of the east end of the structure. The area houses the projection, utility and electrical rooms, office and storage area, which were all completely destroyed.
Oates said the main theatre, which includes the seating area, stage and screen, all sustained heavy smoke and water damage.
“The building had three- phase wiring, which is all gone, along with the seats, screen and all my equipment is gone,” he noted.
While the damage is extensive, Oates doesn’t believe the building has been destroyed beyond repair.
“I was only in there for about halfan- hour, but, in my opinion, the building itself is salvageable.”
He credits the work of the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department in saving the building from complete destruction.
Insurance was carried, but Oates said it’s too early to estimate his loss, except to say: “It’s going to take a lot of money to replace it — all is left is the four walls and the floor. So everything will have to be gutted out and cleaned up.”
The 32- year- old building is a sound structure, he noted — something members of the Carbonear Volunteer Fire Department found out when their chop saw struck concrete block in an attempt to cut a test hole through an exterior wall.
Fire Chief Ed Kavanagh said “the fact it was a concrete block building with metal siding and a steel roof made it difficult for firefighters to get at the fire trapped inside the walls and double ceilings.”
About 29 members of the brigade battled the stubborn blaze throughout the night and into the next day.
Kavanagh said the upstairs was “fully engulfed” when they arrived shortly after 11 p.m.
“It didn’t take long to knock down the main fire,” Kavanagh noted, but the fire trapped inside the walls and double ceiling smouldered throughout the night.
At 7 o’clock the next morning, an hour after firefighters had left the scene, they had to return to take care of another flare-up.
Aerial ladder passes test
The incident marked the first time the department got a chance to test out its new 100- foot aerial ladder truck at a real fire.
By extending the ladder in over the roof, the device allowed firefitghters to spray water from the nozzle at the end of the ladder directly onto the roof. It also allowed firefighters to access the roof directly and safely from the ladder.
“It performed as it was supposed to and lived up to its expectations,” the fire chief reported. “It ’ s a hel l of a lot more safe, thought it’s too bad somebody had
to loose their business.”
Rise from ashes
The cinema building has been up for sale for over two years, and Keith Oates confirmed it is still on the market.
However, he said: “I’d like to get it going again as a cinema. It was my livelihood, all I done all my life.”
Oates was only 14 years old when he started working with his father, Tom, who operated a cinema in the old Orange Hall in the 1970s with pro- jection equipment purchased from the old Bond Theatre. After a year, they moved back to the Bond, which was eventually closed up by the fire department.
The current building was constructed in 1979. Oates recalls it opened on Dec. 5 of that year with a screening of Rocky II — the first of more than 2,000 different films moviegoers have viewed there over the past 32 years.