Destructive Montrose Athletic Club fire ‘suspicious’

After initial success, firefighters retreat because of collapsed floor

Investigators with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the Montrose Police Department are scrutinizing a fire that destroyed the Montrose Athletic Club at 100 Apollo Road early Wednesday.

Montrose Fire Protection District Chief Bob Pistor wouldn’t say whether the fire was arson, pending an investigation, but called it “suspicious.”

“I don’t want to get into that until CBI brings in a dog that can sniff out suspicious things,” he said.

The fire department received phone calls about an explosion and fire at the club at 12:43 a.m. Wednesday, according to the fire department.

When firefighters arrived at 12:47 a.m., flames were shooting through the roof and heavy smoke and flames filled the two-story, 12,000-square-foot structure.

Firefighters entered the building and knocked down a fire behind the reception area, but retreated when they found part of the floor had collapsed and heat was coming up from the lower level, according to a report by Deputy Fire Chief Tad Rowan.

Entry to the building is through the upper floor, where the reception area, laundry room, kids play room, two workout rooms and a weight room are. The lower floor contains men’s and women’s locker rooms, a gymnasium and racquetball court.

Firefighters had the fire under control by 2:06 a.m. and remained at the scene until 5:30 a.m. No one was in the building when the fire started and no injuries were reported.

A fire in May 2007 caused moderate damage to the athletic club. That fire was determined to be accidental and to have started in the women’s sauna, which was not rebuilt when the building was repaired.

Club owner Mead Serra said he had no information about the cause of the fire. Serra said the club, which opened in 1981, never had a sprinkler system installed because the building didn’t have a kitchen and “was not that kind of business.”

The fire department estimated damage to the building at $500,000, with another $250,000 in damage to contents. The building’s value is estimated at $1.5 million.

Serra said the building, which he does not own, is insured. He said the contents are also insured, but he doesn’t know whether his losses will be fully covered. He said it’s too early to know whether he can reopen his business, but he fears the worst.

“I’m not going to get anything out of this,” he said.


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