BECKET — While investigators continue to probe for the cause of a Tuesday morning blaze that destroyed one of two indoor stages at Jacob’s Pillow, staff also are working with an independent fire safety auditor to ensure that the rest of the campus is not at risk.
Pillow officials also are in touch with detectives from the state Department of Fire Services, said Nicole Thomasofsky, the Pillow’s director of marketing and communications.
Jennifer Mieth, public information officer with the agency, said in an email Thursday that she had no further updates from investigators about the origin of the fast-moving fire that reduced the Doris Duke Theatre to cinders.
Thomasofsky said she could not comment about testing and inspections of the Pillow’s hydrants or fire-suppression systems until both investigations are complete. The hydrants did not flow when firefighters arrived, and the pump that feeds them and the Pillow’s sprinkler systems failed.
Becket Fire Chief Paul Mikaniewicz said that while his department does go to the Pillow on occasion to scout the location of hydrants and occasionally hook into them for a test — particularly after construction or renovations — those hydrants are not the town’s responsibility.
He said it was his understanding that hydrants there had been tested within the previous four months because of construction work on the property.
The blaze at the Pillow, a world-renowned dance mecca, was spotted just before 7 a.m. by a construction crew, and it engulfed the 30-year-old wooden theater soon after firefighters from five towns arrived.
The loss of the 230-seat venue devastated a dance community already struggling with coronavirus pandemic shutdowns, and the Pillow was flooded with messages of support and offers of help.
After knocking down the fire, crews worked long after dark snuffing hot spots, as they worried about the wind blowing around embers, Mikaniewicz said.
Crews got one hydrant working by Tuesday afternoon, and struggled with a failed pump at a man-made pond filled years ago to serve the campus. They instead were able to draft from it using a truck, but had to rely on tanker trucks from other towns.
Mikaniewicz said that Becket crews are accustomed to shuttling water from other locations, since the town has few hydrants, and did so from another nearby pond. He said hydrants can be unreliable, even after a good test.
He said there was no way to know if the water problems contributed to the total loss.
“There’s a lot of variables,” Mikaniewicz said.