|Update: Jacob's Pillow Theater Fire Cause Still Undetermined |
|Staff Reports, iBerkshires|
12:20PM / Wednesday, November 18, 2020
|Image posted by the Monterey Fire Department, which sent two trucks to the scene on Tuesday. |
BECKET, Mass. — In an update released by the state Department of Fire Services late Wednesday morning, it was stated that the cause of the fire is still undetermined.
The statement did note that there were issues with the fire suppression system, which are being investigated by the insurance company.
Becket Fire and Police Departments and State Police assigned to the Office of the State Fire Marshal are still investigating the fire that burnt the Doris Duke Studio Theatre completely to the ground Tuesday morning.
The theater is determined to be a total loss; no other buildings were damaged by the fire.
Original post, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2020; 1:19 p.m.
BECKET, Mass. — The Doris Duke Studio Theatre at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival burned to the ground on Tuesday morning.
Nicole Tomasofsky, interim director of communication for Jacob's Pillow, said the fire was reported at about 7 a.m. and was contained to the 216-seat theater.
"[T]he damage to the theater is extensive," she said. "No one was injured in the incident."
Artistic and Executive Director Pamela Tatge later vowed that the festival would rebuild.
"While we have lost some precious, irreplaceable items, those experiences and memories will last forever. We are heartbroken and we are relieved that no one was hurt. On behalf of everyone at the Pillow, we are grateful for the firefighters and officials who have responded so quickly to this devastating emergency on our grounds," she said. "We are grateful for the outpouring of support from around the world we have already received. We will rebuild."
The structure was fully involved and took about two hours to put out, according to news reports. By around noontime, the heavy equipment was pulling the charred remains apart and was still on the campus at 1 p.m.
At least six fire departments responded to the scene, including Chester, Hinsdale, Lee, Otis and Monterey.
"The Becket fire department was first on scene," Becket Select Board Vice Chairman Michael Lavery told WAMC. "The fire was a six-alarm fire and six towns including Monterey were involved. I believe the fire was put out shortly before 9 a.m. but it was a total loss of the one building."
Images posted on Twitter and Facebook show the structure completely destroyed. The state fire marshal's office is reportedly aiding in the investigation.
"The cause of the fire is not known yet. Jacob's Pillow staff are working closely with local officials on the next steps," Tomasofsky said.
The Duke Theatre, named for the philanthropist and arts supporter, was the smaller of the two performance venues at the dance festival. The Ted Shawn Theatre, named for Jacob's Pillow's founder, has more than 600 seats.
The theater opened in 1990 and was Jacob's Pillow's first large studio. It was used for developing new work in class, rehearsals, and performances. Liz Thompson, who designed and built the Inside/Out stage at Jacob's Pillow, was the catalyst for constructing the Doris Duke Theatre.
The Pillow, like many other performing arts venues in the Berkshires, had canceled its season because of the pandemic. It had recently opened studio and housing spaces to a small number of artists this fall for COVID-compliant Pillow Lab residencies.