Published Jan 01, 2006A major block fire in Halifax on February 26 left about 20 people homeless, most of them artists and musicians who lost everything in the fire. Smoke damage effected a nearby rehearsal hall as well.
"There were some roofers working with torches, and it seems that they set the place on fire," explains musician Al Tuck, who was at a friend's house with his Guild guitar at the time. "Everyone else lost all their belongings. One fellow lost a lot of bagpipes. He was a really good player who would practice on the roof in the summer. He lost a precious, 100-year-old set of family heirloom bagpipes. There were also some visual artists who lost their work, although some slides and photographs were rescued from the rubble. I lost any recordings I had, including early recordings that I had plans to re-release."
Several benefit shows took place all through March, not just in Halifax but surrounding communities as well. "I played a benefit show in Chester, which is a town nearby," says Tuck. "There were pictures of my house on fire all over the bar, which was a little strange. That same night at the Marquee there were a dozen bands playing a benefit, and people have come out of the woodwork for it.
"My roommate Gordie Roach, a country and western singer, lost all his stuff in a fire two years ago," Tuck continues. "I don't know how many people were effected by it, but nothing like this [show of support] happened last time. Maybe this was a more noticeable fire, because it took a big chunk out of the street and I'm sure most people knew somebody involved. Nobody had insurance technically, but it seems like we have it socially."
Tuck says he didn't know his neighbours that well before the fire. "But I'd like to hang out with the other burnt-out people, because we have nothing in common. Get it? Nothing is what we have in common."