Members of the Fralinger String Band said they were waiting to survey the damage from the blaze in a largely residential area of south Philadelphia. Firefighters were still pouring water on the building several hours after the first flames were reported, Fralinger Chairman Steve Coper said.
"Replacing this is going to be very difficult for us in 21 days," Coper said. "We're very anxious to assess what's salvageable."
Several explosions were reported at the three-story industrial garage, fire department Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. An elderly neighbor was taken to a hospital, and the Red Cross was assisting several families displaced by the fire.
The warehouse's owner had previously been cited for operating an auto repair shop in the building, a violation of the zoning code, Department of Licenses and Inspections spokeswoman Maura Kennedy said.
The cause of the fire hadn't been determined.
Fralinger is one of many clubs that participate in the Mummers Parade each Jan. 1. The century-old tradition is often described as Philadelphia's Mardi Gras, with thousands of performers dressed in fancy costumes adorned with sequins and feathers.
String bands march in costume and then perform what Coper describes as a "four-and-a-half-minute Broadway production" for judges at City Hall. Mummers rehearse the musical numbers for months and put thousands of hours of labor into their extravagant sets and outfits.
Luckily, Fralinger's costumes were not in the warehouse, Coper noted. He said the band, which has placed first several times in recent years, still plans to march on New Year's.
"No question," he said Monday.
Other Mummers clubs have volunteered to help replace whatever has been lost, said Coper, and the band is collecting donations through its website.
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