The historic Rives Theatre in uptown Martinsville is expected to be a total loss after fire erupted Sunday night.

Martinsville Fire Chief Ted Anderson said at about 9:45 p.m. by phone from the scene of the fire that he estimated that the call to the 911 center had come in about an hour before then.

When firefighters responded, the fire already was through the roof, he said, adding that whenever a fire is through a roof, especially “an old building with wood in the attic, the fire has been there a long time.”

Initially a crew of three was sent in, but because of danger of collapse, those firefighters were pulled out, he said.

“There are no injuries at this point, and that’s the way we plan on keeping it,” Anderson said.

He said the building was likely going to be a total loss.

Fire crew were able to contact all owners of adjoining properties so they could come and move vehicles and significant equipment and merchandise away from the Rives, he said.

The Rives is a former movie theater that now is used as a performance space, gathering place and general theater. It served VIP ticketholders for the Brewster Walk event on Saturday.

The Rives Theatre was formed in 1932 as a playhouse, then later enjoyed more than seven decades of success as a first-run movie house. According to the theater’s website, Arts at the Rives Theatre (ART) is a community nonprofit in Martinsville dedicated to preserving the theater.

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