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Greenville theater group loses everything in fire

Posted at 4:03 PM, Dec 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-03 19:29:07-05

GREENVILLE, Mich. — A community theater group lost about $100,000 worth of costumes, props and set pieces when a storage warehouse burned down early Tuesday morning.

Flat River Community Players have been storing its property in a warehouse on the corner of Charles and Clay Streets in Greenville for the past 10 years. Around 2 a.m. on Tuesday, fire crews got a report that the warehouse was on fire.

"Upon arrival, our units determined there was an active fire on the first floor," Greenville Public Safety Lt. Brian Blomstrom said. "The building is a total loss based upon the age of the building and the fact that it was not structurally sound at the time of our arrival and the extent of the fire. We had to go with a defensive attack."

Kent "Skip" Schuster, the president of the theater group said he got a call around 3:30 a.m. from his costume maker, who made many of the costume pieces stored inside the warehouse.

“She was at a loss for words. She’s just like, ‘Skip, it’s gone,'" Schuster said. "I’m like, ‘What are you talking about?’ She’s like, ‘The building’s on fire. It’s like, flames in the sky. We’ve lost everything.’”

Since the group didn't have a formal lease with the owner or insurance, it won't get reimbursed for any of the damage.

"It was a handshake situation," Schuster said.

While some things can be remade or purchased, many of the group's items cannot be replaced.

“We had a beautiful line of military costumes going back to the Korean War, military uniforms, we had Ike jackets from WWII that we’ve lost," Schuster said.

The group started a GoFundMe page to raise $5,000.

Ionia Community Theater is holding a bake sale to raise money for the Flat River Community Players, Schuster said.

The group puts on all its productions at the Greenville Area Community Center, where its production of "A Christmas Story: The Musical" will premiere Friday evening. Schuster said nearly all of the set, costumes and props for that show had already been pulled from the warehouse before the fire.