Fire raged midday Thursday through a kids gymnastics center housed in a former YWCA building in downtown Winona, authorities said.
The blaze sent smoke skyward from KidSport Gymnastics that could be seen for blocks. KidSport owner and coach Rob Murray said no one was in the building at the time.
Firefighters on aerial ladders were training their hoses on the flaming rooftop of the mostly brick structure in the 200 block of Center Street.
Murray said gymnasts had come and gone by 8:15 a.m. for a morning session before the blaze started.
“I got a call somewhere around 11 o’clock,” Murray said. “ ‘Your gym’s on fire.’ We hopped in the car and headed down.”
Murray left the scene early in the afternoon and was told that firefighters have “turned off the hoses. They’ll probably be sending folks in before too long” to start working on figuring out what started the blaze.
The building dates to 1912, and it “looks to be a total loss,” said Murray, who started the gymnastics center there in 2000. “That’s a disappointment. It was a cool building.”
An addition was built in 1982 that had been used for a tennis court. Murray said that the newer space was his primary gym and has been largely unaffected by the fire.
Murray said the brunt of the destruction occurred in the original building, where KidSport housed office space, a parent waiting area, a dance studio and a gymnastics training area for boys.
By afternoon, Murray said, “we just sat down to talk about” where to temporarily relocate in order to serve the center’s 300 to 350 young athletes, with some qualifying for national competitions. “There are some nearby options.”