NAPLES, Fla. - A Southwest Florida community is picking up the pieces this morning after a fire damaged a majority of the Greater Naples YMCA facility. Crews battled the fire that started just before 4:00 p.m. Monday.
The YMCA is located on 5450 YMCA Road near Airport Pulling Road and Pine Ridge Road. The president of the YMCA says fitness members can go to Naples Community Hospital and workout for free if they show their YMCA ID. Swimmers can use the Golden Gate pool with the county.
Officials estimate the fire caused $2 million in damages, and that a third of the building was lost. Students in the afterschool program can go to Osceola Elementary or Marco Island YMCA.
North Naples Fire, Golden Gate Fire, East Naples Fire and the City of Naples Fire Departments all responded to Monday's fire. Two Firefighters were transported to the hospital with minor injuries.
"It's sad. I guess there is just no real words for it," said YMCA employee Monica Taccone.
When Taccone found out on Facebook the YMCA building was on fire, she rushed to the scene and couldn't believe her eyes.
"Sadness. This stuff just isn't supposed to happen to the "Y,"" said Taccone.
Shortly after 3:30 p.m. Monday afternoon authorities say the cleaning crew smelled smoke in the main building and called 911. It didn't take long for flames to start shooting out of the roof and send smoke hundreds of feet in to the air. The fire was so intense, it took more than 50 firefighters to get it under control.
"The fitness center looks to be totally lost, gymnasium I'm sure is well damaged, most likely totally lost," said YMCA president Paul Theim.
This is devastating for the YMCA's 6,000 members. On a normal weekday, more than 200 children attend pre-school in the building and even more kids pack the grounds for after school programs.
"If we were there we would have gotten out because we practice, but it would have been intimidating," said Taccone.
The YMCA is all about helping the community, but now they will be the ones needing a helping hand to rebuild.
"Thank God the 'Y' is about members, and we are really looking at rallying the members in the community now to figure out how we are going to recover from this," said Theim.
For the latest updates, click here to visit the Greater Naples YMCA Facebook page.
A fund has been set up at the First National Bank of Florida Gulf Coast.