February 8, 2009

19 Broadway in Fairfax, CA Catches Fire Last Night

By Moss

Historic 19 Broadway in Fairfax, CA caught fire last night. I've played the tiny stage there a number of times on percussion and drums with a variety of acts. Here is an article from today's Marin IJ. Article by Brent Ainsworth.

The 19 Broadway Niteclub, a fixture on the Fairfax entertainment scene, was the site of a three-alarm fire Saturday night witnessed by dozens of people who were evacuated from the club and nearby buildings.

No one was hurt and the cause of the fire was being investigated Sunday morning, said Ross Valley Fire Department spokeswoman JoAnne Lewis. A preliminary indication was that it started in one of the residential units above the club.

The name of the band playing at 19 Broadway was the Petaluma band Hillside Fire.

"It's not funny, but it is since nobody got hurt," Chris McCarthy, the club's manager, said Sunday morning.

Thirty-nine firefighters arrived shortly after the call came in at 10 p.m. Saturday. Lewis said the fire was under control by 11:06 p.m.

Lewis said the call got a large response from area fire departments because buildings in downtown Fairfax are close together and exposure protection was necessary.

There are three residential units and a club office above 19 Broadway, and Lewis said one resident received assistance from the American Red Cross to find a place to stay Saturday night.

Tera Ferguson of the Sleeping Lady restaurant and bar at 23 Broadway evacuated a full house of customers who had come to see local rocker Bonnie Hayes. Between songs, a customer who had monitored the fire advised Ferguson to get people out. Many customers had not paid their dinner bill yet.

"I said, 'I don't care if you've paid, please get out safely,'"

Ferguson said. "Later, people came back and told me where they were sitting so they could take care of the bill."

There were eight engines and five chiefs working the fire, Lewis said. Participating departments were from Ross Valley, Marin County, Ross, Kentfield, Larkspur and San Rafael. Units from Corte Madera and Tiburon covered Ross Valley stations on other calls while the blaze took place.

Ferguson said she saw a hole in the charred wall where firefighters had accessed an upstairs apartment. "You can see into the room and there's a lot of smoke damage," she said.

A woman at the Fairfax Inn bed and breakfast, at 15 Broadway, said no one was staying in the rooms closest to 19 Broadway, but other rooms were occupied and everyone got out safely.

McCarthy said 19 Broadway will remain open for business.

"All my bartenders and staff were very professional," he said. "They got everybody out of the building in a safe manner.

"The fire and police, they are all heroes."

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