A four-alarm blaze gutted a 24 hour health club early Thursday morning at 3725 W. 13th St. in Wichita, Kan.
Smoke rapidly filled the building as about 20 staff and patrons fled the structure on the city's northwest side. In a strange twist of fate, Sedgwick County Fire District #1 Chief Gary Curmode was en route to the club for his morning workout when the call came in at 5:53 a.m.
SCFD #1 is the fire district surrounding the city of Wichita. When Chief Curmode arrived on the scene, he saw light smoke from the eaves and fire showing from a flue pipe on the southwest corner of the large one-story structure.
Within a few minutes, flames had spread rapidly through the attic and Curmode requested a second alarm at 6:00 a.m.
Wichita Fire Battalion Chief Rob Hughes soon arrived and command was transferred from Chief Curmode who then became his aid.
First due Wichita Fire Dept. Squad and Engine 8, along with Squad 7, arrived shortly after Curmode and began making an interior attack using two pre-connects.
The well-advancing fire quickly involved the entire structure and the interior crews were pulled out due to heavy heat and a sagging roof.
After a transfer of command from Chief Curmode, Wichita Fire Battalion Chief Rob Hughes requested a third alarm at 6:04 a.m.
Aerial Platform 1 and Quint 4 were already set for the defensive attack, and soon, Aerial Platform 9 and Quint 13 were placed to assist with fire attack and help protect two nearby apartment complexes.
At 6:22 a.m. Chief Hughes requested a fourth alarm. About 60 personnel continued to battle the flames with several hand lines in addition to the truck companies.
The fire was deemed under control at 9:00 a.m., but crews remained on scene all day manning watch lines and pumping thousands of gallons of water from the health club's basement.
Fire Investigators from the WFD as well as the Kansas State Fire Marshal's Office are working to determine a cause. The exact loss is still unknown, but the building and contents were declared a total loss.