New signage at Blues Alley in Georgetown looks towards brighter days. Scorched bricks and the rooftop can be seen next to the sign. Credit: Brenda C. Siler/The Washington Informer

Reports of a possible fire at Blues Alley in Georgetown sent shockwaves throughout the District and jazz fans worldwide. From news reports and social media images, smoke came from the roof of the venerable historic jazz venue. Ten fire trucks were on the scene, dousing water and quickly getting the situation under control.

Though a final cause for the possible fire has yet to be determined by D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Blues Alley’s assessment of what occurred differs from the fire department’s initial assessment. According to the Washington Post, Jennifer Donelan, chief communications officer for D.C. Fire and EMS, firefighters confronted a fire at the club in an area between the ceiling and the roof and were able to extinguish it. Harry Schnipper, executive director for Blues Alley, said there was smoke and water damage but was unclear on whether there was an actual fire.

Catherine Russell and her trio performed at Blues Alley Sunday evening before a packed audience, two days before a possible fire at the landmark DC jazz club. On stage (L-R) pianist Sean Mason, acoustic bassist Tal Ronen, vocalist Russell, and guitarist/vocalist Matt Munisteri. (Brenda C. Siler/The Washington Informer)

Arriving at the club the following afternoon, Schnipper talked about the next steps.

“We’re getting ready to turn on the humidifiers and begin to remediate the water,” he said, referring to water damage from the fire department’s response. “The only damage that occurred inside has been to our speakers, amplifiers, the console, and maybe our piano.  

Founded in 1965, Blues Alley is the nation’s oldest continuing jazz supper club. Known for hosting top music performers through the decades, like Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Phyllis Hyman, Billy Hart, John Pizzarelli, and Freda Payne, the club hopes to re-open on Tuesday, October 31. Follow the club on Twitter (@BluesAlley) for the re-opening updates. 

Brenda Siler is an award-winning journalist and public relations strategist. Her communications career began in college as an advertising copywriter, a news reporter, public affairs producer/host and a...

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