Fire Marshal Starts Investigation of Blaze
Yesterday morning's two alarm fire, which gutted sections of the Varsity Club, has been placed under a "routine investigation" by the Fire Marshal's office, Deputy Chief William Crimmens of the Cambridge Fire Department reported last night.
Meanwhile, members of the Buildings and Grounds Department, the Fire Department, insurance investigators and members of the Band, which maintains its headquarters in the basement of the building, began the long job of inspection, cleanup and repair of the damage, estimated at $20,000 to $40,000.
While the cause of the fire has not been determined by the Fire Marshal's office, Crimmens said that it definitely started at the foot of an emergency stairwell leading from the basement to the Club, working its way up through the stairwell, which acted as a chimney, to the roof. Fire damage was limited to the stairwell and a few adjoining rooms, but water damage was present throughout the entire building. The Union, which adjoins the building, was unhurt.
Fire Department officials reported that the building had been subjected to a routine inspection Thursday, and was termed safe. Previously, both the Varsity Club and the Band had been admonished for storing rubbish in the stairwell, but the inspection report indicated that it had been removed.
Most of the music belonging to the Band, which was stored in a room adjoining the stairwell, was destroyed or damaged beyond use by the fire and water. Officials of the Band said yesterday that the music was worth about $10,000, since it included virtually all of the Band's medleys, which were hand copied from exclusive manuscript scores.
Music Not Insured
None of the Band's music was insured. Officials said that the possibility of insurance was explored last spring, but was abandoned since valuation was too difficult. Replacement of the hundreds of thousands of lost sheets of music will be a "long and expensive process," according to George L. Kirklin '59, manager of the Band. Almost all of the irreplaceable scores were recovered from a metal filing cabinet, he reported.
A "bucket brigade" of Bandsmen and bystanders succeeded in removing most of the instruments before they could be damaged, but several drum heads were warped by the heat, and a newly purchased bassoon was completely destroyed. The big bass drum, long a Band trade mark, was taken from the building while its case was in flames, but remained apparently unharmed by the flames or heat.
Kirklin said yesterday that the Band would probably travel to Cornell as scheduled, but that the annual Dartmouth concert, scheduled for Oct. 24, may have to be postponed.
The extent of repairs needed for the building has not yet been determined, according to Henry M. Muller, deputy Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds. Muller said that the Varsity Club and the University would have to decide whether the building should be restored to its original state or remodeled