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Friday, October 22, 2010


Pic: Antwyne Magnussen (senior fireman), Katarzyna Florys (Barnyard manager), a relieved Debbie Davidson (Barnyard owner) and Dominic Ogle (firefighter).

It can be said that The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway’s year-end show, The Absolute 80’s, set the venue alight when the opening night’s success was marred by a fire after the theatre had closed.

The fire appears to have been caused by a cigarette that set light to one of the leather couches in the venue’s smoking lounge. Gateway’s control room was alerted to the fire when the smoke detector’s alarm sounded around midnight after the venue had been locked up and, upon inspection by centre security, they found thick smoke coming from the venue and water from the theatre’s sprinkler system. The Umhlanga Fire Station were immediately called in to respond and were able to control the fire, extinguishing it before extensive damage was done.

While fire damage to The Barnyard was confined to the smoking lounge on the mezzanine level, there is extensive water and smoke damage, not only to the theatre, but also to other Gateway tenants. The necessary assessments and reports are still awaited, but it is anticipated that total damage caused from the fire could run into millions of rands.

Theatre owner Debbie Davidson was called to the site by Gateway centre management, where she assessed the situation with Ethekwini Fire’s Division Commander Kanniappen and his team. “This is obviously a very unfortunate incident but, all things considered, I am very relieved that the fire was contained and relatively little damage done to the venue. It is thanks to swift action taken by Gateway’s services and the Umhlanga Fire Department that the venue was saved and the centre was not more severely damaged,” said Davidson. “While a full assessment of the damage done to electrical and other equipment will be undertaken this morning, cleaning up operations are well underway, and it is anticipated that we will only need to cancel two nights’ shows – Thursday and Friday.”

The Absolute 80’s, due to run at The Barnyard Theatre at Gateway until January 9, is expected to return to the stage with the normal schedule of shows resuming on Saturday. Patrons who have booked to see the show on the weekend can expect business as usual, but the venue will keep them informed of any changes due to damage, or they can call The Barnyard on 031 566 3045.