GA Theatre Catches Fire on Friday Morning (Updated 11:15)

(Photo/Gordon Lamb)
(Photo via Twitpic by VeniceisSinking Lucas Jensen)

A lot of us woke up to bad news this morning. At 8:30 I got a text telling me that the Georgia Theatre was on fire. Not believing this, I ran to the computer to check my local sources. And guys, it’s true.

Downtown Athens is now filled with smoke from the raging fire that began sometime around 7 a.m. on the second floor of the Georiga Theatre. The Fire Department was called at 7 a.m. and proceeded to fight, spilling water into the theatre. Someone said it looked like “they were splitting it.” According to reports from my friends there, several blocks of downtown have been blocked off. The heat from the flames could be felt as far away as the Morton theatre.

Perpetual Groove was scheduled to play tonight and tomorrow. Greene has spoken with Athfest organizers about moving the scheduled acts to Legion Field or the Classic Center.

UPDATE (11:15)
Still no word on what caused the fire. Buildings near the Theatre were not harmed. No one was injured. Power was turned off intentionally but will be back on between 11 – 12 today. A large crack has formed in the side of the building and officials are very concerned with the integrity of the structure. It’s basically just a few walls standing very awkwardly up. Police are asking everyone stay away since they’ll be working for the rest of the day.

P Groove has been moved to the Classic Center for Friday and Saturday night. SATURDAY CONFIRMED ONLY. Athfest acts may be relocated to Classic Center or Morton Theatre…

Jared Bailey reports that Wil will rebuild though Wil suspects a total loss. We’re behind you guys! Rebuild!

(Photo Via Twitpic Ryanetics)

The apperance now resembles just a shell says Wes Delk via Facebook. The front looked saved by the inside is gutted. Reports on twitter are saying that downtown may not open or may be delayed today. The power outages downtown are expected to last until the afternoon, prompting many to either go home or go watch the firefighters.

To give you a sense of how important the Theatre is to Athens, here’s a quick history lesson. The theatre has been a landmark in Athens since 1978 when it opened with Sea Level (Randall Bramblett/Chuck Leavell). It shut down as a music venue in the 80s until 89 when Pylon opened it back up. It is currently under the ownership of one Wilmont Greene. To say that it’s been an important venue is an understatement. R.E.M., Widespread Panic, the B-52s, and so many major touring acts like Tom Waits and Dave Matthews Band have played there. Folks are hoping it is not a situation like the one that occurred with Tyrone’s O.C. many years ago.

UPDATES AS WE GET THEM

MORE PHOTOS BELOW, Follow Illuminatedeye for more twitpics as the day goes on.
(Photo via Twitpic by VenicisSinking)

(Photo Via Twitpic by SSHARP)

Sources: http://athensmusicandarts.tumblr.com/
http://www.redandblack.com/home/ – Best
http://www.ajc.com/news/content/metro/stories/2009/06/19/athens_fire_georgia_theatre.html?cxntlid=homepage_tab_newstab

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