A fire erupted at one of magic’s most hallowed grounds, The Magic Castle today. Around 12:30 p.m. fire crews were called to the Hollywood landmark to battle a greater-alarm blaze that reportedly started in the attic and burned into some of the walls. About thirty minutes later, the Los Angeles Fire Department called in additional aide to combat what L.A.F.D. spokesman Matt Spence called “a stubborn fire.” The crew, consisting of roughly 120 firefighters extinguished the blaze in a little over an hour. Thankfully no injuries or fatalities have been reported.
While the cause of the fire has yet to be determined, several reports have pointed to maintenance that occurred earlier in the day as a potential factor. The Magic Castle has stated that “we are officially closed tonight as we regroup and assess damage. We will have updates regarding our re-opening as soon as we know more. Thank you for your support and understanding. This community is a tight-knit one and we certainly feel the love coming in from around the world.” While the fire is said to have mainly damage the attic and a couple of walls, it is not the only issue at hand. Extensive water damage may also be a concern at the venue which opened under its current title on Jan. 2, 1963.
The fire stops short the Castle’s “Inferno Week,” with the fire ironically starting at the exact hour of Houdini’s death. This is truly a sad day for the magic community as one of its greatest landmarks has been hit by tragedy. My thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who are being affected by this event and I hope that the Castle and its rich heritage will survive.
John Rotellini Jr. is a magician and student at the University of Wyoming.
UPDATE: I just received this email from Jonathan Pendragon:
West went to the Magic Castle when she was called early this afternoon to represent her family, she just got home. This is her report: Everyone got out safely. There is some damage, but not as bad as it could have been. Crews will be on site tonight working to repair the damage. It is hoped that the Magic Castle will reopen this weekend. They were even able to joke that the Castle should excommunicate the person who came up with this year's Halloween theme, "Inferno" !
UPDATE 2: From the Board of Directors of the Magic Castle: As you may already know, the Magic Castle experienced a small fire this morning, starting in the attic above our administrative offices. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident, and the Los Angeles Fire Department was quick not only in responding to the scene, but in resolving the situation and minimizing the impact to the building.
The Castle has experienced some damage to its roof, as well as to some ceilings and fixtures. With sadness, therefore, the Board of Directors has decided to close our operations for the next several nights and, once our assessment is complete, will be announcing whether we'll be closed for business beyond that. We believe that insurance will cover any financial losses, and have notified our carriers.
We, the Board of Directors, would like to sincerely thank the LAFD (for their usual excellence and going “above and beyond” with their help), the AMA staff (who reacted with great poise and professionalism), and also all the concerned members and friends we've heard from today. We want to assure everyone that we'll do everything we can, to get our beloved clubhouse back to her original condition as soon as possible.
This message was approved by the Board of Directors.