This past Thursday, February 6th, a fire caused extensive damage to Apollo Masters manufacturing plant in Banning, CA where lacquer used to make vinyl discs are produced, according to a report from The Desert Sun.
The early-morning “three-alarm fire” didn’t result in any injuries to the employees on-site, but did require the presence of 82 total firefighters to help extinguish the blaze which may have come from an explosion at the 15,000-square-foot factory. The building fire was contained by 10:45 a.m., but not before it almost completely destroyed the facility.
A statement shared to the Apollo Masters website reads,
To all of wonderful customers. It is with great sadness we report the Apollo Masters manufacturing and storage facility had a devastating fire and suffered catastrophic damage. The best news is all of our employees are safe. We are uncertain of our future at this point and are evaluating options as we try to work through this difficult time. Thank you for all of the support over the years and the notes of encouragement and support we have received from you all.
Unfortunately for music fans–specifically avid vinyl consumers–Thursday’s fire could result in loss of productivity for bands and record labels who need the supplies made at Apollo Masters to produce and sell their albums on vinyl.
“From my understanding, this fire will present a problem for the vinyl industry worldwide,” Third Man Records co-founder Ben Blackwell said about the fire in a statement shared to Pitchfork. “There are only TWO companies that make lacquers in the world, and the other, MDC in Japan, already had trouble keeping up with demand BEFORE this development.”
Blackwell continued, “I imagine this will affect EVERYONE, not just Third Man Pressing and Third Man Mastering, but to what extent remains to be seen … I don’t want to be an alarmist. But I’m attempting to be realistic as opposed to Pollyannish.”
The fire brings to mind the 2019 report on the 2008 warehouse fire at the Universal Studios Backlot which resulted in the loss of thousands of master recordings from John Coltrane and Nirvana to Joni Mitchell, Tupac Shakur, and Louis Armstrong.
Riverside County Environmental Health officials will now begin to investigate whether the surrounding environment in Banning was impacted by the burning of chemicals used at the facility.
SR 243 closed south of I-10 due to fire. Use alternate routes. Unknown duration. pic.twitter.com/muPVeCfTHj
— Caltrans District 8 (@Caltrans8) February 6, 2020
[H/T The Desert Sun]