Fire and Brimstone: A Retrospective

July 11, 2016

This past month marked ten years since The Great Fire At The Abbey. Despite this passage of time, the scorch marks are still visible and the memory all too vivid. Ten years ago we watched our art and livelihood burn to the ground. As we prepare a special commemorative Color Of The Month for July, we revisit Monk's blog post from that fateful day...

Welcome to the worst day of my life

Having slept a glorious 12 hours, I felt remarkably optimistic about the looming deadlines that have been plaguing my attention all week. I took my beloved Tambo out for a quick cup of coffee, and I was just about to drop her off at the bus stop when I got the call. It was from my neighbor, M. Her shop and mine share a common wall.

“Monk, there was a fire in your shop…”

In an instant my mellow, happy day turns into a vomitous knot in the pit of my stomach. We race to the Abbey to assess the damage.

It’s a strange thing, walking into a fire scene. The gates to the Abbey were cut open and hung askew. Power had been shut off to most of the building, so the place has the eerie quiet of an early morning about it. The acrid smell of smoking hemp fills the air as we walk into the devastation. The fire started on the roof, outside the shop, and made its way into the building along one of the corner walls. Overall the actual fire damage is minimal but the damage from the fire department is unbelievable. There are gaping holes in the walls where windows once stood, and the plastic sheeting we used as insulation against the cold winter winds now hangs in tatters. Everything is coated in a film of water and ash, coming together to form a sludge that reeks of smoke. The floor of the main workspace is covered with an inch of water. Invoices and bits of rope float past my feet as I run into the office to see how far the damage has spread.

I cannot express to you, dear reader, just how horrible that moment was. To see all I have built float past me in a puddle of stagnant water. All that I have sacrificed and bled for destroyed with the fireman’s axe. Sorta feels like I was kicked in the nuts, hard, and the foot is still there. Last night this was the Abbey, my shop and our home.

This morning it is a crime scene.

After many hours of cleaning, the damage seems to be mostly structural to the outer building and to our drying room. The fire department is not saying exactly what caused the roof to ignite, save that it was “suspicious”. This will, of course, take us some time to repair, time we don’t have right now in the run up to TES Fest. That is if we even attempt to go now.

The gods choose to smile upon me, and the office and storerooms are mostly untouched, save for some water on the floor that has destroyed some of our book stock. Most of our finished stock was spared.

Yes, we are insured. No, nobody got hurt. Yes, we will rebuild and re-start production again.

From the embers of what we now simply refer to as The Fire (or The Great Fire, as it turned out to be the first of a few) rose Phoenix- one of the most popular and sought-after custom ropes we have ever produced. So it is with great pride that we rake the coals, continuing the cycle of the phoenix, and bring you July 2016's Color of the Month- Brimstone.




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