The Aquatic Fitness Center and Aquahab Physical Therapy location in Northeast Philadelphia experienced a fire Monday morning, causing the evacuation of about 100 people, some wearing just swimsuits. The facility is closed for an undisclosed period of time, but the company's president said he plans to rebuild. .
The AFC Fitness Northeast Philadelphia Facebook page shows this image of the club's Olympic sized pool where the fire appears to have occurred. (Screen capture from AFC Fitness Facebook page.)
A four-alarm fire broke out in the bubble-covered aquatics area of Aquatic Fitness Center and Aquahab Physical Therapy (AFC Fitness) in Northeast Philadelphia on Monday.
About 100 people, some in swimsuits, were evacuated from the facility because of the fire, according to a report from local ABC News station WPVI-TV. The temperature in Philadelphia on Monday morning was in the low 40s, according to a review of weather.com at the time of the fire.
The Philadelphia Fire Department's Twitter page said that two people were taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, and more than 50 aparatus and 150 firefighters fought the blaze.
"We’re extremely fortunate that our staff and members were able to swiftly and safely evacuate during the fire at our Northeast Philadelphia location on Grant Avenue this morning," AFC Fitness President Matt Littman said in a statement released Monday afternoon. "The damage to the facility was severe and the Grant Avenue location will remain closed until further notice. Our team is working to accommodate displaced members and we’re encouraging them to utilize our other locations in Feasterville, Jenkintown and Bala Cynwyd.
"We’re working to assess the damage and determine our path forward, but can confirm at this time that we’re committed to rebuilding our Northeast Philadelphia location. We truly appreciate the understanding and support of our members and the community during this difficult time."
The fire department said the cause of the fire was under investigation, but Kevin Kirby, who identified himself to Philadelphia's ABC News station WPVI-TV as a worker at the facility, told the TV station that a blow torch being used to do welding work on the roof of the aquatics area started the fire.
"It just literally went up in a matter of two minutes," Kirby told the station.
AFC's website says that this location has an Olympic-sized indoor pool plus a heated shallow therapeutic pool that is 35 feet long and 3 feet deep. It also has 40,000 square feet of workout space and a childcare area.
AFC, which was founded in 1991, ranked No. 57 on Club Industry's 2016 Top 100 Clubs list with a reported revenue of $16.5 million and 20,000 memberships plus 500 staff members at the end of 2015 at all of its facilities combined.
Club Industry has reached out to AFC Fitness for more details and will update this story as more information comes in.