A Southport gym was evacuated Saturday morning as a fire raged on the roof.
The Fairfield Fire Department received numerous calls from drivers on Interstate 95 north reporting seeing flames shooting from a building near the Delamar Hotel in Southport close to 7:36 a.m. The manager of Gym at Southport Athletic, the former Southport Racquet club, at 226 Old Post Road in Southport called the fire department as crews were responding to alert them to a fire on the roof of the building.
Fairfield Fire Lt. Lee Corbo was heading home after an overnight night shift in his private vehicle when he saw the flames as he was driving by the gym. He stopped and helped the manager get people out of the building before firefighters got there.
"We were very lucky to receive early notification of this fire from alert commuters before interior smoke detectors were activated," Assistant Chief Scott Bisson said. "The fire damaged the roof of the building along with gas and electric utilities requiring repair but most portions of the business are still able to operate at a limited capacity while these repairs are being performed.”
No one was injured, but there were still smoke issues inside as the fire grew on the roof, according to fire officials. The blaze was still going when firefighters arrived.
As crews climbed ladders and brought a hose in to drown out the flames, they discovered two fires on the roof stemming from separate natural gas lines where repair work had been done this past week, according to fire officials.
The utilities had to be shut down and more fire units responded, accessing water from a fire hydrant, opening up the roof to put out "the hidden fire" and to get hoses into the building to make sure the fire didn't spread further, the fire department said. Crews also brought in tarps to block rain from falling through the holes in the roof and damaging wooden floors in the building.
People were allowed back in the gym to get their belongings after being kept outside for a short time.
The fire marshal and building official responded to investigate the source of the fire. Area fire departments and off-duty Fairfield firefighters covered the Fairfield stations and emergency calls as Fairfield crews were on scene at the gym fire.
The fire remains under investigation and the fire marshal's office is not deeming it suspicious.
The scene was cleared by 10:29 a.m.