10/14/04 — Fire in sauna damages YMCA

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Fire in sauna damages YMCA

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on October 14, 2004 2:09 PM

An alert cleaning crew member was credited today with saving the Family YMCA from even more damage after a pre-dawn fire in the sauna in the men's locker room.

James Hunter told the News-Argus that he smelled smoke and that he and the other three crew members found the location of the fire, closed the door, went outside and called 911.

"If it had not been for James, it would have been a lot worse," YMCA Executive Director John Richards said.

Assistant Fire Chief Ray Boyette said that closing the door contained the fire.

The fire occurred just before the Y, which has a membership of about 8,000, was being opened for the day. Richards said he was notified by telephone of the fire and arrived at about 5 a.m.

When members drove up this morning, they were turned away by staffers until about 10 a.m.

The exact amount of damage was not immediately known.

Richards said the men's fitness center would be closed indefinitely until the contractor, R.N. Rouse and Co. of Goldsboro, could assess the damage. Richards said the men's area "was gutted."

The women's fitness center was not damaged. Richards said the women's area should be reopened by Friday afternoon.

The other parts of the Y should be reopened later today.

Assistant Fire Chief Ray Boyette said the fire probably was caused either by an electrical failure or by a wall-mounted heating unit in the sauna being too close to the wood around the unit.

Fourteen firefighters answered the 4:30 a.m. call with three engines, a ladder truck and a command car. Some were still at the Y at mid-morning, blowing smoke from the building. Two emergency medical technicians also responded.

"I'd like to thank the Goldsboro Fire Department," Richards said. "They did a wonderful job."

"I want to commend our department for their quick response and then their attack on the fire," Boyette said.

The building was valued at $3 million, and contents were valued at $1.5 million, Boyette said.