IMAGES | Kentucky Center remains closed as crews assess damage from fire

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The roof of the Kentucky Center is charred and black, after a fire on Wednesday afternoon.

The entertainment venue in downtown Louisville is closed, as damage is assessed, but plans are being made to make repairs and reschedule shows.

"This has obviously been a challenging time for our Kentucky Center family," said Kim Baker, President and CEO of the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, during a news conference Thursday afternoon."There were no reported injuries, and that's really the important story -- we believe -- today."

Crews were out Thursday morning removing burnt wood and charred metal from the roof. There were also crews on the inside looking at the extent of water damage to the main lobby area. Workers are using fans to try and remove the smoke smell from the seats.

"The majority of the damage does appear to be water at this stage," Baker said. "There is a little bit of damage -- a little bit of damage -- within the theaters but the majority is in the lobby area, and of course, on the roof."

It took 70 firefighters more than three hours to contain the flames. Most of the effort was on the sloping metal roof on the east side of the building.

Baker took time to thank both the Louisville Fire Department and the Louisville Metro Police Department.

"This was a very difficult fire," Baker said. "They were up there on a challenging site and they spent many hours into the wee morning -- this morning they left, finally, after four shifts."

The building contains several theaters. Kentucky Center spokesman Christian Adelberg said some theaters were damaged.

"There is a little water in the main theaters, the two main theaters, the Bomhard Theater and the Whitney Hall, and we are getting a better idea of what it's going to take to get everything up and running again," he said.

Baker said there is little damage to Whitney Hall. But every surface will have to be cleaned to rid the building of the smell of smoke. The main lobby and the street level lobby suffered the most extensive damage.

Roofing crews and a disaster management team pulled up to the center around 7:30 a.m. Thursday. They wasted no time getting inside the center and getting to work.

The center, the box office and the parking garage will remain closed until further notice. Baker said many of the center's employees are working from home, or in other buildings. Although the box office is closed, she said patrons can still purchase tickets at www.KentuckyCenter.org.

Baker said several of the upcoming shows have been relocated to other venues. PNC Broadway In Louisville president Leslie Broecker said she is optimistic that the Broadway show "Waitress" will go on as-scheduled at the center June 26 through July 1. An update is planned next week. 

The fate of the production of "Newsies" presented by Floyd Central High School remains unclear. Baker said they believe they have a solution. But they are not ready to announce it yet. 

Questions remain about whether millions of dollars in artwork at the Kentucky Center was damaged by smoke or water. Specifically, Baker said curators from the Speed Art Museum were on hand to assess any damage to the $18 million Visual Art Collection stored in the building and owned by the Kentucky Center for the Arts Foundation. There is concern about one piece in the Bomhard Theater, a painting by artist John Chamberlain, called "The Colored Gates of Louisville." It was specifically done for the city by Chamberlain.

Baker said officials were trying to dry the building without drastically changing the temperature in order to protect the artwork.

Firefighters said on Wednesday a spark from a grinder ignited the fire, as construction crews were doing planned renovations.

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