New concerns after fast-moving building fire - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

New concerns after fast-moving building fire

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Photo credit: Shannon Handy Photo credit: Shannon Handy

CLAIREMONT (CBS 8) - There are major concerns Saturday about a Clairemont building that was virtually destroyed by a spectacular fire.

Firefighters worked well into the night to gain full control over the stubborn three-alarm fire. 

Flames tore through the large commercial complex Friday, sending flames into the air and threatening firefighters with the risk of floor collapses.

Heavy smoke started pouring from the windows and roof of a fitness center in the 3000 block of Clairemont Drive around 5:45 p.m., according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

Five hours later, crews were still working to extinguish the flames. Firefighters worried about the floors collapsing and were unable to enter the building. They let the fire burn a hole through the roof in order to get a better vantage point to battle the flames.

"It's pretty much a total loss. It's pretty much gone." 

George Burtless spent Saturday morning inside the destroyed fitness center, which was scheduled to be revamped and re-opened under new ownership next month.

"I mean, it's going to have to be gutted to rebuild it."

George had been working with the new owners as a heating and air conditioning contractor.

He and others who witnessed Friday night's fire believe old wiring is to blame.

"It was probably electrical. It's the only thing left. There's a sauna over there. It could have been that."

The swimming pool still has remnants of the hours-long fight which brought in 60 firefighters from various agencies.

"If you were to go around the back side of this building and look at the back wall. It is literally burned out. It could fall down into the canyon."

Portions of the building have been deemed unsafe and have since been red taped.

Meanwhile, the traffic school next door is still without power and water.

"This is our home, our office, the way we make a living."

Though it came close, fortunately, for Steve Debry his business is still in tact.

As for the gym -- "Thank goodness no one was hurt, but for the couple who hoped to open a new business, it's destroyed now."

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