Monday, April 07, 2014

Wellington fire destroys storage facility, record collections gone

Danny Lemon's photos of just some of the rare records he lost in the fire. Photos: Danny Lemon

The first news report I saw of this horrible fire in Wellington last Friday (April 4) was about Weta/LOTR cinematographer Alex Funke, who had lost his Oscars to the fire - they replace them, but he was saddened by the loss along with a lot of his camera gear. There was also mention of classic car owners who stored their cars there and took them out at weekends.

Funke told reporters he did not realise the units did not have sprinklers until today. "It's very upsetting, you put stuff in a storeroom and you say 'Well, it's safe, nobody's going to steal it, it's never going to burn down' - well obviously next time put it in a place with sprinklers." The building contained 750 storage units, one of five buildings used by Kiwi Self Storage Units in the suburb of Kilbirnie.

Then I heard the heartbreaking news via Facebook that several Wellington DJs had lost their storage units to the blaze. Danny Lemon (of pioneering Welli sound system Roots Foundation, which included the likes of DJ Mu, now of Fat Freddys Drop), lost over 8000 records, cassette tapes and ephemera. DJ Topknot lost his records and Splash (ex Manaia Toa, BaseFM) lost his records, clothing, furniture, and many other belongings. My thoughts go out to them for their sad losses.

Lemon said on Facebook that "As many of you will know, I lost my entire collection of 8500 records, save for 3-400 I have at home, in the storage fire yesterday here in Wellington, NZ. Many thanks to everyone who has contacted me or posted messages relating to this event. Here is an interview I did this afternoon on NZs National Radio. My condolences to Splash, and also Topknot, who also suffered substantial losses in the fire. My worst nightmare has been realised ... "

Many many people left messages of support for Danny on his Facebook page, and some even offered to give him some of their records.

Radio NZ: Danny Lemon on Kilburnie fire: "Wellington's DJ Lemon talks with Kirsten Johnstone about the loss of his extensive roots, reggae and house music record collection in the Kiwi Self-Storage fire in Kilbirnie."

Now comes the news reports that the Devastating Wellington blaze was 'intentionally lit'

excerpt: "Danny Lemon, a Wellington DJ and founding member of Roots Foundation, lost up to 8500 records in the fire. The largely reggae collection was 35 years in the making. If he tried to replace them all today, he estimated only five per cent would be available, but said given the time and money he would be able to replace most of it eventually.

The thought the fire may have been intentionally lit was "just malicious", he said.

He had cancelled his home insurance due to the appalling service from his insurance company about a year ago when a water pipe burst, flooding his apartment. About 500 records suffered water damage but the insurance company refused to send an assessor.

He was still trying to clarify if he had insurance through Kiwi Self Storage and hoped word it was likely arson did not complicate insurance matters further."

Author Chris Bourke (Blue Smoke) wrote a piece on the loss in the Kilburnie fire of the photographic archive of classical musician and photographer Tom Shanahan, a former member of the NZSO, who had planned to donate his collection of stills to the Turnbull Library. He also looks at how our media organisations treat their archival material.

ADDED April 16: Roots Foundation Fundraiser at San Francisco Bathhouse, Wellingoton, on 1st June with DJs Lemon, Koa, Goosebump, Cian, DLT, Rhys B, Dubhead, K-Tel, Duke Willis & Riki Gooch. $20 donation/entry


Via Radio NZ: No sprinklers at gutted storage building

excerpt: "Kiwi Self Storage Units director Andrew Fraser said it was not the industry standard to have sprinklers at storage units, but the company would look at installing them at its other storage facilities.

The company has fully insured the building, but people need to have individual insurance to be covered."


michaelmaloney said...

What a devastation! I can't even imagine what other priceless collectables in storage must have been destroyed in that disaster! I hope that at least the self storage renters took out a good insurance policy so they can recuperate a bit of their losses.

Edward Thirlwall said...

My condolences about the fire. It's one thing to have memorabilia in self storage lost but for real historical pieces like those vinyl records and a guy's Oscar trophy perishing too, that's just loss at a totally different level!