Fire Devastates the Golden West

Marisa Demarco

Joe Anderson, owner of the Launchpad, got a call from his alarm company around 6 a.m. this morning. He rushed to his business near 7th at 618 Central and saw a small amount of smoke billowing from the front of the Golden West. “I thought everything was cool and under control,” he says.

Marisa Demarco

But it wasn’t long until part of the roof of the Golden West at 620 Central collapsed. Fire Department Commander Brian LeVie says the fire spread quickly, and the roof collapse makes it dangerous for firefighters to enter the building. The Fire Department is proceeding cautiously. The fire is under control, though still smoldering. Blackened debris piles are visible from the front of the Golden West, many of which are probably very hot underneath, LeVie says. Sunlight streamed through the gaping hole where the historic venue’s roof used to be.

Marisa Demarco

Twenty-five trucks were dispatched to the Golden West, owned by Kathy Zimmer and her mother, along with about 75 firefighters. The building was built by Zimmer’s grandfather.

Marisa Demarco

At about 11 a.m., fewer trucks and firefighters remained. The Red Cross was on hand with drinking water and supplies. The cause of the fire is under investigation, and LeVie added they haven’t yet begun speculating as to what the source might have been.

Marisa Demarco

LeVie says the crews successfully isolated the fire to the Golden West. “Fires like this can spread laterally,” he says. He expects the Launchpad suffered smoke and water damage. El Rey also has water damage in its basement.

The electricity and gas were turned off in the area early this morning for safety reasons, though PNM is working to narrow the scope of the power shut down to only the affected buildings. Business owners will be let back into their buildings to survey the damage tomorrow morning, according to LeVie.

Marisa Demarco

The Launchpad lacks a wall on one side of the building, and the Golden West’s wall served as the barrier between the two. Anderson says the Launchpad will probably be closed for months as that wall is rebuilt. The Launchpad is insured. Luis Mota was working on moving shows that were already booked to other venues.

Anderson says watching the Golden West burn down this morning was surreal. “I have blood and sweat in the Golden West,” he says. He worked there for five years in the ’90s. “It’s the best room for live music in town.”