The Fire at Vanishing Inc.

An extensive interview and the full timeline of events.

Burned packaging at warehouse fire with Vanishing Inc logo

On June 6th, 2024, at 11 p.m., a fire destroyed the Sacramento warehouse and headquarters of Vanishing Inc., one of the world’s leading magic companies. When they announced the news on their website and social media platforms, the story was shared widely amongst online magic forums, with the magic community unanimously shocked and in disbelief.

The good news is that nobody was hurt, and a series of updates from Vanishing Inc. made it crystal clear that no fire can or will ever stop the operation of their business. Although they have been forced to navigate this new chapter post-fire, Vanishing Inc. wants everyone to know that, for their customers at least, it's business as usual.

So, I reached out to the co-founders of Vanishing Inc., Andi Gladwin and Joshua Jay, to discuss what happened on the night of the fire and the weeks that followed. Specifically, I wanted to document their personal journeys and unique timelines of the dramatic events. I also wanted to get an idea of how things now look for Vanishing Inc.'s future. Thankfully, the pair were pleased to oblige.

Although this is an ongoing investigation, meaning specific details surrounding the cause of the fire are not yet conclusive (the final report is due to be released at the end of this month, June), they were still able to give a massive insight into what happened during the terrible incident and the aftermath.

Joshua Jay was the first of the two to find out the news:

I got a call from one of our staff who was talking through tears, completely understandably. I was in Europe at the time, and he had gone to work like he does every morning and there was no work to go to. 
I couldn’t understand what he was saying because he was completely and understandably upset and confused. He just said this inspector needs to talk to you and he said “Are you one of the owners of this address” and I said “Yes” and he said “There’s been a fire.” I was shocked. The first thing I was concerned about was was anybody hurt but it had happened in the middle of the night so it was clear nobody was hurt. 
Afterwards, the first thing I did was call Andi. There have only been a few times in our 15 year partnership that I’ve had to go through the screen of do not disturb; if I call two times he’ll pick up.
I just said, “Are you sitting down? I’ve got some news. Our warehouse is gone. There’s been a fire, and it’s gone.”

Andi Gladwin:

I had just arrived in Los Angeles. I’m doing some work there. So when Josh called, I was like, He’s forgotten what time zone I’m in, it’s 7AM! So I rejected the call. And then he texts me in big capital letters: URGENT ANSWER NOW. Never in our business life have I ever received that kind of call from him. So I was like: Who's died? What’s up? This is serious! I immediately called him back and he said, “The warehouse has burnt down. We think everything has gone.”
As we were talking, I was booking the flight and two hours later I was on a plane from LA to Sacramento. It was worse than described to both of us. There was literally nothing. Everything had been destroyed. The racking had been warped. You think maybe there’s half the warehouse we can save, or maybe there’s gonna be a few products that we can save, but its nothing.

It's been an incredibly stressful start for both of the company's co-founders. They were first told of the events over the phone while far away from the warehouse, and it was difficult to understand the severity of the situation.

Shot from above of huge warehouse remains after fire
The Fire at Vanishing Inc

To give you an idea of the scale of the fire, the pair told me that not only one unit got destroyed, but two! They first purchased a warehouse on the site early in the company's existence in 2016. Previously, they had been working out of each other's apartments! Soon after acquiring the first unit, they bought the one directly behind it, knocking down the wall to double its size.

As Andi Gladwin went on to tell me, all of it was now gone; almost nothing was retrievable:

We don’t know exactly what time the fire started but within an hour. Our alarms cut off at 11:05 which suggests that that’s when the fire really hit.
There were still firefighters there when I got there, and every now and then, they’d be spraying hoses into the building to put it out. The fire itself took 40 minutes to put out. 60 firefighters over 40 minutes. The firefighters were on site for 24 hours afterwards to keep it under control. But they had to get in through the roof because the warehouse doors were all locked. The fire had burnt all the way up through the roof, but they had to spray water down onto the building so everything, if it wasn’t burnt, it was soaking wet, because the hoses came over the top. Because we store books, mostly, that’s what we’re very proud of doing, publishing books, the fire still kept flaring up because the paper would just ignite again. 
So, we immediately opened a google hang out, so anyone in the team who was concerned could just join, and chat and within three minutes, I think everyone in the team was there to support each other, and they really came together to see what they could do. We’ve been doing almost daily emails to the team to let them know that their jobs are safe, and explaining the whole process of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Joshua Jay was able to add more details about this:

Even though we have insurance, it’s such a scary thing because nobody in the process definitively wants to tell you its going to be okay or these things can be replaced. Some can, some can’t. But nobody tells you that. So, even now in this moment that we’re speaking, there is an enormous amount of uncertainty. Uncertainty makes me very uncomfortable, and stressed because we don’t know when and how we’ll return to normal.
Now, as I said, and we both can’t stress this enough, the main thing is nobody was hurt. That is the sanctity of life. That goes without saying. It’s cliche but we are grateful everyday and every time I see those pictures of that fire, I mean, the way the officer described it to me is it was quite a hot fire and quite an explosive fire. So if staff members had been inside, I don’t wanna think about it. The fact that it happened overnight is such a blessing.
However, we print a product or a book and we print a quantity of that product or book, and we sell most of them, I would say 75% within the first two months when it’s a new hot product. The rest sit in our warehouse and they trickle through and eventually they sell out. A big part of our business model is: it may take one year, it may take five years, it may take ten years, but eventually those products sell out. When a warehouse fire happens and it wipes us out, it essentially ruins the economics of every one of those products because we’re in the midst of recouping our expenses or making our profit or paying back our creator or whatever the case may be. And it wipes you out. Every one of those books or products is a deal and it ruins the economics of that deal because you can’t go reprint 68 'Amaze Box Blacks', you can’t reprint 55 copies of 'Before We Begin'. You do those in groups of thousands. We were in the process with all of those products, and they’re all gone.

Josh is visibly frustrated, and understandably so, but there was something that struck me while talking to the pair: Andi and Josh's personalities perfectly balance each other out. Josh's response to this situation is very pragmatic. His tone is serious but very calm and polite, especially when he apologizes for the odd cliché, which is oddly quite British for an American to do.

Whereas Andi is more prone to joking here and there and is unafraid of finding the beauty of colors in a very dark setting. At one point, he noted the colors of the books, visibly bright at points of the fire until they all turned grey. His optimism is oddly quite American for a Brit.

This might be what's made them such a great partnership over all these years, and if I were a member of their team, I would feel comforted that they were my bosses during such a difficult time.

Andi Gladwin continued:

We had to quite quickly put plans in place to keep the public appearance of Vanishing Inc. continuing, so that same day we talked to Murphy's Magic. They’re a mile away from our “ex” warehouse, so we set up camp there. We have a little corner of their warehouse that they’ve lent us. They’ve lent us computers and printers and packaging supplies, and the team were ready to ship that day. Because we now find ourselves buying back those products from Murphy's, as Josh told you about, there’s no real profit in that for us but we get to at least buy it back and send it on to the customer.  So we are still in business and the good news is we have no fear really of going away. It’s just going to change things for us behind the scenes. 

This fantastic gesture from Murphy's Magic steered the conversation towards the response from the magic community as a whole. In short, I don't think Andi or Josh could quite believe it. Here's what Josh had to say:

All of our competition (I say "competition" in air quotes because we’ve never viewed any of these people as adversaries, they’re just also in the community we serve) reached out, offering to help out in any way they can. We had many of our creators saying, “We’re waiving our royalties or money owed, we just want you to have it.” Many of our dearest friends, from magic celebrities on down to young magicians that we’ve featured at conventions, all said “How can we help?” We’ve had customers offer to give us interest free loans. We’ve had customers offer to fly our and sweep up rubble. We’ve had customers offer to give us money, just write us cheques, and I guess now is an important time to say, and as much as Andi and I really were in shock when this happened, we also feel quite strongly that we want to be clear to the community that we’re not a charity. 
We’re very fortunate that our business was very healthy and profitable and did well, and we were always prepared for an event like this. We hoped it would never happen but we knew that it could happen. So, we have declined all those offers of donations. We’ve asked people who’ve started gofundmes, which is such a kind, unbelievably thoughtful gesture, we’ve insisted that they shut them down because we’re going to build back the good old fashioned way of working hard.

Andi added to this sentiment:

We even had several team members offer to donate their salary so that we could help rebuild. Which, obviously, we said no to. We just have this incredible team who are all so determined to build back. I don’t see that there’s going to be any disruption in the order process because of how great they’ve all been. It’s been amazing to see. 
For the first time ever, I had to close down my inbox and not look at it, because every time I’d open it there’d be another 20 messages. It was just overwhelming, crazy, all of the support. I still think it’s going to take a few weeks to catch up with all of the messages on Instagram, and emails and stuff. It’s just nice to see and to be supported.

On the topic of how the magic community can help Vanishing Inc. in a time like this, Josh had this to say:

The best way if you wish to help this brand that we’ve built and that’s serving the magic community is to continue ordering, we are open for business. Obviously and completely understandably, our team were very worried they weren’t going to have jobs, that we were going to downsize, that we were going to cut the team in half or something. We’re committed to keeping our team together and keeping this business not just the same but growing it. We have aspirations to grow this business so the way that everybody can help is by going back to normal. I mean, we still carry thousands of magic products and you don’t just have to buy downloads, which are wonderful because that doesn’t take any shipping requirements, but we have another warehouse in Blackpool [UK] and we have one offsite now, we have a new system in place. We’d be grateful for orders to continue as normal, because there’s no longer any disruption to our normal service.

I wanted to know what was happening with the warehouse now. Will they be getting a new warehouse or moving back into their old place soon? Josh stepped in to answer this question first:

It’s too early to say. In a very general sense we can say we had adequate insurance so you know, we’re not left out in the cold. Based on the images, it’s not simply a matter of cleaning it out and moving back in, there’s a lot that has to go on from a health and safety perspective so those are questions that we’re not yet ready to even tackle because we’ve just been fighting to get back to normal.

Andi added:

We’re supposed to be back in the warehouse in maybe a year or a year and a half so we have another warehouse that we move into next week so we will be moving from Murphys.

Josh continued:

Inc. isn’t a warehouse. The warehouse was just the place and we loved that place. We had a lot of laughs there and a lot of fun, you know up until last year we would fly out and we’d ship things on Black Friday to help the team out. We’d get right in the assembly line and help out and I love going to the warehouse. It’s like a magical wonderful place. There’s more magic in those four walls than I’ve ever seen in my life. So, although that’s gone, this has been a great reminder that the warehouse really was just things and what Vanishing Inc. is all about what the magic community is about is are these gatherings that we do and the magic we create and the books that we’ve put out that are now in every single magician’s library. That’s what Vanishing Inc. is.


On the day of the fire I was blown away by how much the community had come together for us that it made me think that when we rebuild the warehouse or find a new warehouse, we need to think more about how we can support the community because clearly the community supported us. So, when we rebuild, perhaps we’ll be able to do tours of the warehouse or shows in the warehouse. It’s a place which remained mostly invisible to magicians yet seemed to mean so much to magicians. So I think it’s our job, as we rebuild, to think how we can involve the community in that process. Maybe we do a show from the warehouse maybe we do an open day or maybe once a month the warehouse is open for people. We have to thank the community after what they’ve done for us.


We’ve often dreamed about it. This might be the impetus to get it done. 

The final anecdote we discussed was the recovery of one item amidst all the rubble: a photograph of Andi and Josh happy at work. Andi told the story:

It was on one of our employees desks. That room, that office, is just destroyed. Water damage. Fire damage. But amongst a sea of black and grey was just this little picture so I thought, can I take this, as my one souvenir from the place? I don’t even know where it was taken actually but it's cool that we got it. 

There's no denying that it's going to take a lot of hard work to rebuild after something tragic like what Vanishing Inc. and now Magic Shop San Diego have had to go through. The next few weeks, months, and years are not going to be easy. But there's a precise determination, from speaking to the heads of Vanishing Inc. at least, to not just get back to normal but to come back stronger.

And with the support of the magic community and good insurance, the road to get there should be a little less rocky.

Photo recovered from the fire at Vanishing Inc.
Photo recovered from the fire at Vanishing Inc.

The interview in this article was taken before the terrible news of the fire at Magic Shop San Diego's warehouse. Events like these are so rare, and, fortunately, nobody was hurt in both instances. However, the fact that everyone at Magic Shop San Diego and Vanishing Inc. has had to see so much of their work in ruins in the exact same month is extremely upsetting. We’re sending both teams our love and can't wait for you to get back to a sense of normality.