ALPENA, Mich.– On July 21, the John A. Lau Saloon caught fire from a welding accident.
While firefighters weren’t able to save the saloon, they were able to stop the blaze from reaching the Thunder Bay Theatre.
Though spared from the fire, the theatre still sustained serious water and smoke damage.
Lucas Moquin, artistic director of the Thunder Bay Theatre, invited WBKB to see the extent of this damage. The impact of the fire was apparent as soon as Lucas led me into the lobby.
“We had to, pretty much throw away all of the lobby furniture. Anything and everything, basically, down here had to pretty much be thrown.”
In addition to the damaged furniture water and ash have pooled in light fixtures overhead, and the original wooden flooring has warped to a remarkable degree.
Lucas then took me to the auditorium, where the stage itself will need to be completely replaced.
He also showed me the stairway to the basement, coated in mold that started growing the day after the fire.
The basement was where the cast and crew stored their props, costumes, and set materials; now, almost all of them have had to be discarded.
Then we went upstairs to the second floor, home to the apartments Lucas his crew called home. In one kitchenette, a shard of glass from an exploded window lodged itself into the side of the fridge. The plaster ceilings have crumbled in some places, and the roof as a whole will need to be replaced entirely.
“It’s gonna take a really long time to repair everything and make everything suitable for people to be in the building regularly.”
Though the building was insured, Moquin said it will take some time to calculate the damages. Even after costs are calculated, repairs will be an extensive process.
“We already knew we needed a new roof, but we can’t fix the roof or repair the roof or replace the roof until we fix the masonry, all the bricks. and we can’t do that without replacing all the windows and adjusting all the floors. So it’s gonna be a massive, massive undertaking.”
Updates on the theater’s situation can be found on its website and Facebook page.