Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Public safety

Arson suspected in Clearwater two-alarm fire

CLEARWATER — Investigators believe arson may be the cause of a two-alarm fire that damaged the Apollo School of Gymnastics on Saturday night, authorities say.

About 50 firefighters and 15 units responded to the building at 2140 Range Road at 10:12 p.m. after a Clearwater police officer smelled smoke and discovered the facility was ablaze.

Firefighters brought the flames under control within 30 minutes, Clearwater Fire & Rescue said. No one was hurt.

A co-owner of the school, Brian Finnegan, 33, of Clearwater, said about 100 students train in the building. The business has been around since 1975, and is the oldest continually operated private gymnastics school in Florida, he said. Finnegan has co-owned the school about six years. Inside were various trampolines, bars, beams and mats.

"Everything is covered in black," Finnegan said.

Classes at the gym will resume at a local church the week of July 7, Finnegan said.

A damage estimate was not released.

The State Fire Marshal's Office is investigating. A sign was posted outside the school seeking tips. Investigators ask anyone with information call (877) 662-7766.

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