Fire Rips Through Bay Park Fitness Center

The building sustained approximately $2 million in damages

By Danya Bacchus and Monica Garske
|  Saturday, Jun 15, 2013  |  Updated 3:45 PM PDT
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A large fire sparked at a fitness center in Bay Park that was closed for renovations. Firefighters fought the stubborn blaze for many hours, but were eventually able to knock it down. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

A large fire sparked at a fitness center in Bay Park that was closed for renovations. Firefighters fought the stubborn blaze for many hours, but were eventually able to knock it down. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.

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Firefighters spent many hours Friday evening battling a blaze that sparked at a health and fitness center in Bay Park, fire officials said.

The fire was first reported around 5:45 p.m. at a multi-story commercial building in the 3000 block of Clairemont Drive. The building houses the California Health and Fitness Center, which was currently closed for renovations.

Fire crews rushed to the scene to tackle the flames, which proved to be stubborn.

By about 6:15 p.m. the fire department called for a second-alarm response. Just after 7 p.m., fire crews called for even more back-up.

Firefighters said the blaze in Bay Park was a persistent one. With it initially burning in the walls, fire crews were forced to fight it defensively, from the outside of the building.

With extra help, it seemed as though firefighters had a handle on the blaze. But then, at around 9:30 p.m., the blaze reignited and flames began shooting into the sky once again.

Fire officials said this was part of their plan of attack. They said they needed the fire to come out through the roof of the building because it was in the walls earlier, making it more difficult to extinguish.

With the flames coming through the roof, firefighters were able to climb their ladders, stare down into the building and finally squash the flames.

Throughout the night, firefighters also worked to prevent the fire from spreading to other nearby businesses.

Steve Derby, who owns the Mission Bay Night and Day Traffic School near the site of the fire, said his building was threatened by the blaze. He quickly evacuated his business, gathering documents and other important items.

A short time later, Derby said fire officials told him they would be able to keep the fire contained to one building, and his business would be saved.

“The chief came up and said, ‘Hey Steve, it looks like we’re going to be able to maintain this thing and we’re going to save your business and the others,’” Derby told NBC 7.

The fire sent a lot of smoke billowing into the air. It also captured the attention of witnesses in the area, who said the blaze grew within a matter of minutes.

“It went from a little of smoke to smoke everywhere,” said one witness.

“They’ve been doing a lot of asphalt work and renovations, so I came out seeing some smoke thinking it’s from a truck and then realized the building is on fire,” said another witness.

Fire investigators said they believe the fire was accidental, possibly caused by renovation work being done to the building. The investigation into the fire is ongoing.

No injuries were reported.

Fire officials said the building sustained approximately $2 million in damages.

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