Employees of Gold’s Gym in Sterling knew something was wrong when the lights inside the building started flickering on the afternoon of March 21. They evacuated everyone in the building just before there was an explosion and ensuing fire.
The fire was contained by the automatic sprinkler system and no one was injured thanks to gym employees’ quick actions. Still, the explosion and fire left an estimated $500,000 in damages, the Loudoun Fire Marshal’s Office said. The adjacent Marshalls received minor water damage.
The Gold’s facility had been placed on “fire watch” earlier in the day because the gym’s power — including power to the fire alarm system — was down. Knowing the building was having electrical problems is what led staff to recognize the dimming lights as a sign of danger, Gold’s Gym General Manager Daniel Ferrara said in a statement.
An electrical failure of a high voltage line ignited a methane gas leak in the area, which caused the explosion at the gym, said Laura Rinehart of Loudoun County Fire and Rescue.
Fire and Rescue received the call for the fire at 46262 Cranston Street around 4:30 p.m., and responded with crews from Sterling Park, Cascades, Ashburn, Lansdowne, Leesburg and Kincora, along with multiple command officers after the amount of smoke inside the building prompted first responders to request additional resources.
While inside the gym, firefighters found a small fire at the back and structural damage to the walls, so they exited the building in case it collapsed, Rinehart said. Fire Marshal’s Office and fire and rescue officials verified that the wall was not load-bearing, so firefighters re-entered the building, ensured there were no hotspots in walls and cleared out the smoke, she said.
The Fire Marshal has determined that the fire was accidental.