Bit Tech pulls our attention to news that the Internet Archive's scanning centre in San Francisco has been hit by a serious fire. No one got hurt but the incident temporarily took the site offline and resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and an as-yet unknown quantity of physical materials. The Internet Archive operates the Wayback Machine, a 10 petabytes large index of over 364 billion web pages saved over time.
The Archive estimates that around $600,000 in high-end scanning and digitisation equipment has been lost in the fire, a major blow for the non-profit and donation-funded organisation. The scanning building itself also needs serious repair - or, if a post-fire analysis proves it necessary, even complete rebuilding. Worse still, the fire consumed physical materials that were awaiting scanning - although the Archive states that around half the materials in the building had already been scanned, while the bulk of its collection was safe in a separate and unaffected locked room or in its physical archive facility.
The organisation has turned to the community for help in getting the project back on its feet, posting a plea for donations to rebuilt its scanning capabilities and additional volunteers to help pick up the slack at its secondary scanning site.