Lightning response by firefighters saves historic Cumberland theatre

Quick thinking by a passerby and rapid response by firefighters minimized damage to the Ilo Ilo Theatre in Cumberland Monday night.

FIREFIGHTERS INSPECT the interior of the Ilo-Ilo Theatre in Cumberland.

FIREFIGHTERS INSPECT the interior of the Ilo-Ilo Theatre in Cumberland.

Quick thinking by a passerby, combined with the close proximity of the fire department and a scheduled meeting with its members proved to be the right combination of factors in minimizing damage to the Ilo Ilo

Theatre in Cumberland Monday night.

Around 7:30 p.m., a person walking in the back alley behind the historic building spotting a fire

and called 9-1-1, said Cumberland Fire Chief Mike Williamson.

“Behind the siding and the wall, (the fire) burnt about 25 feet up the roof. Fast notification, along with a meeting in the firehall which is right next door, and we had a 45-second response time, and there was no

problem putting it out,” he explained.

The theatre is undergoing renovations, and Williamson said given a few more minutes, the building

may have suffered significant damage.

“It’s a really wide open place and there’s no drywall protection or anything like that. If we didn’t

get it quick, it could have been a real disaster in there.

“I don’t know if it was someone playing a prank or someone playing with matches, but it could have been a real serious fire in another 15 minutes; we

would have had our hands full,” he added.

Williamson confirmed there was no structural damage to the building, and Tim Patterson, project manager for the renovations, said he is grateful the fire was contained

to a small portion of the building.

“I was super relieved (to find minor damage). As you can imagine, this old building it has a lot of old, dry fir that can go up (burn) so quickly,” he said. “There was no entry point. You can see a fire had been started at this one old window

near the basement and the whole thing just took off from here.”

Patterson added he is working to return the theatre back to a live theatre, and doesn’t believe the damage should set the project back a significant

amount of time.


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