Fire destroys a Tulsa health club

Monday, January 23rd 2006, 5:58 am
By: News On 6

A massive fire at a Tulsa fitness center early Monday. The building used to house the Tulsa Athletic Club, but it's now Vintage Health Quest.

Monday morning’s fire was one of the biggest fires seen in Tulsa for several years. More than 70 firefighters helped put out the flames, which took several hours to get under control.

News on 6 reporter Omar Villafranca says flames jumped several feet in the sky as the 38,000 square foot fitness center burned to the ground.

The fire was so massive; getting any and all available water on it was needed to keep it under control. Crews shut down part of 51st Street so they could drag their hoses across the street and use the hydrants several hundred yards away.

More than 70 firefighters fought the flames, using a defensive strategy to stay out of danger. Tulsa Fire Captain Larry Bowles: "we have gone on to a style of management where there are divisions, there is an A, B, C and D divisions and there is a safety officer on each side and his sole purpose is to watch out for the safety of those firefighters."

More than 40 off duty firefighters also helped put out the blaze. Captain Bowles says the last time off duty personnel were called in to help was during the AirGas explosion of 2003.

Now, investigators are looking for a cause of the fire. "We found all of the doors and windows to be secure with the exception of one entry on the back end. We're trying to determine whether or not entry was forced or that was blown open by the fire."

Preliminary damage estimates are more than $2-million. Since it's a big claim, more than a dozen ATF agents will fly into town to investigate the cause of the fire.