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Hampton/Shaler

Fire won't deter Millvale Studios' mission

| Friday, June 23, 2017, 3:09 p.m.
Millvale Studios sustained damage from a fire on June 19.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Millvale Studios sustained damage from a fire on June 19.
Millvale Studios sustained damage from a fire on June 19.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Millvale Studios sustained damage from a fire on June 19.

No one was hurt but fire fighters were treated for heat-related symptoms as a fire damaged a Millvale business June 19.

Firefighters responded to the Millvale Studios building on North Avenue shortly before 8 p.m. for a fire with heavy smoke.

The building houses an art gallery, The River's Edge Internet radio station and the Millvale Yoga Collective. Mark Panza of Panza Gallery on Sedgwick Street manages the space.

Brian Crawford, The River's Edge owner, said Erika Laing and Tara Molesworth were editing their inaugural “Petticoat Rule” podcast for his network when the fire erupted. Country musician Molly Alphabet also was present, as the duo had just interviewed her.

Crawford said if they had been recording he is not sure they would have heard the fire until it was too late.

“If they were recording, even just a crack in the door would distort sound quality.”

Firefighting crews from nine local departments assisted with the efforts, according to the Millvale Community Development Corp.'s Facebook page.

Milvale Yoga Collective owner Jenny Sines finished teaching a class in Squirrel Hill when she learned about the situation and rushed to the scene.

“You could still smell it and feel some heat and everyone was scratching their heads trying to figure out what happened.”

“It looked like a war zone. There was an entire garbage can that melted to the ground. The ceiling was falling down on the inside. There was furniture melted. The heat must have been absolutely insane,” Crawford said.

None of Sines' property was damaged; about 30 of the radio station's CDs melted.

“It was really bizarre and kind of miraculous that all of our (recording) equipment survived,” Crawford said.

However, Jamie Hahn, the development corporation's vice president, said “a good amount” of the art showcased at the studio is lost forever.

“I think Millvale definitely is a resilient town. The (Hurricane Ivan) floods were one of the worst things that we went through. So this is kind of like we're just taking a deep breath and we're going to move forward and we're going to rebuild.”

She said the corporation, which owns the building, was going to work to improve Millvale Studios after completing its revitalization efforts at the Bennett Station Town Square project on nearby Grant Street.

“So it's just kind of given us a little nudge to do that a little sooner than we had hoped, but we are planning on rebuilding the art studios and making it a better space.”

“We needed new lighting. Well, we're getting new lighting,” she said, chuckling.

In the meantime, The River's Edge is still available for online streaming as Crawford finds a permanent recording space. Sines is holding yoga classes at 6 and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at Panza Gallery at 115 Sedgwick Street and at 6 p.m. Thursdays at the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania at 100 Howard Street.

Hahn, Sines and Crawford expressed gratitude to the rescue crews, business leaders and community members who have offered them assistance.

While insurance will cover some costs associated with the fire, the development corporation is planning a July 22 fundraiser for art supplies and other materials. Stay tuned to the Millvale Community Development Corporation's Facebook page for details.

Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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