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With Cleanup Under Way, Magic Castle Aims to Reopen Friday

Most of the repairs to the Hollywood icon are being made in the dining rooms, third-level office space and the basement.

The hum from a chorus of exhaust fans filled the halls of the Magic Castle Tuesday as the effort to repair damage caused by its Halloween Day fire continued.

Crews were busy restoring the second-floor dining hall, which sustained damage due to fire that spread through a third-floor wall just above it.

The fire that broke out at the Magic Castle Monday afternoon could have been much worse, according to the staff at the private club for magicians and magic aficionados.

Darren Ross, who manages the Magic Castle property, said he was grateful for the firefighters who took swift action to protect the 102-year-old structure and its staff.

“It could have been so much worse, especially in an old building,” Ross said.  “We owe the firefighters everything, and our sprinklers worked. Everything did what it was supposed to do.”

Fire crews arrived early enough to take preventive action by covering a portion of the third floor, where the fire initially broke out, with plastic sheets.

“They were able to actually take the time to cover everything in plastic, in here and downstairs,” Ross said. "They covered all the collectibles here. Almost everything was saved and fine. It was incredible.”

Ross said the fire began in a wall by an area where a small roof repair project was taking place. Magic Castle staff members noticed smoke coming out of the wall and were able to evacuate the building safely, he said.

“The fire was contained in the walls and there weren’t raging flames when [firefighters] walked in,” Ross said. “We don’t know for sure the exact cause. We did have a roofing company out here using a torch."

Officials are still determining the cause of the blaze and tabulating a damage estimate, said Eric Scott, a Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman.

A portion of the third floor that houses administrative offices sustained the most damage. Crews had removed carpet and shifted furniture.

Most of the repair work Tuesday morning was concentrated in the dining room where segments of water-logged carpet were removed Monday night. A mural from a section of the ceiling in one of the dining rooms was falling.

“It’s a much dryer feeling right now than it was 12 hours ago,” Ross said.

The second-floor performance rooms for magicians, just past the dining room, were untouched by the fire and the firefight. The kitchen was safe and the Houdini and Irma rooms were not affected either.

Cords powering fans were crisscrossed throughout the building. In a portion of the basement, crews had cleared out 3 inches of water on Monday, Ross said.

The staff's primary goal is to have the Magic Castle open by Friday with some portions of the building, such as the third-floor offices and the basement, still undergoing repairs.

"[The damage] is not very extraordinary," Ross said. We're taking care of it."

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