Fire Guts New England Theatre
Fire officials said the blaze, which also caused extensive smoke and water damage, was caused by a malfunctioning fog machine underneath the venue’s hydraulic stage. The machine was probably left on after that evening’s performance of “Cinderella,” a fire department spokesman said, and a spark or heat from the machine probably ignited the stage.
No one was in the building when the blaze started about 90 minutes after the show let out. Fire departments from 11 communities showed up to help extinguish the three-alarm fire, which caused an estimated $3 million in damage. The theatre’s sprinkler system likely prevented more extensive damage, a fire official said.
Concerts by Ruben Studdard, ABBA Gold, Engelbert Humperdinck, Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels Band, and The Beach Boys were among the events affected. Venue officials said they hope to reschedule the shows.
The 1,860-seat theatre is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.