The fires burning in California are affecting at least one fitness facility. Stevenson Fitness, Oak Park, California, is north of Malibu, California. The facility closed the evening of Nov. 8 after the Woolsey Fire began to near it, and it re-opened after the mandatory evacuation order was lifted the morning of Nov. 12, according to Marisa Hoff, general manager of Stevenson Fitness.
“There were a few other businesses in our area that opened sooner, but we did not want to put any of our employees in danger,” Hoff wrote in an email to Club Industry. “The management team opened [the club], and we did our best to clean so that the soot and grim were mostly gone from everywhere.”
The fire, which came within a mile or two of the facility and has resulted in the death of two people, is one of three fires burning in California. A second fire, the Hill Fire, is west of the Woolsey fire. The third fire, the Camp Fire, is north of Sacramento and has killed 42 people as of Nov. 12, making it the deadliest fire in California history.
None of the staff at Stevenson Fitness have lost their homes at this point, Hoff said, but some of the members have. As of the end of the day on Nov. 12, the Woolsey Fire was 30 percent contained, according to a 2018 California fire tracker kept by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Stevenson Fitness opened its doors to firefighters during the evacuation so that they could take a shower.
“As I was driving around our town seeing all the damage, I felt a need to do something,” Hoff said. “We knew restaurant owners that were opening their businesses to first responders. I thought that maybe a shower would be welcome since there were so many fire companies from all around the state.”
Hoff told a group of firefighters across the street from the club that if they needed a shower, they could use the gym’s showers. A few hours later, the firefighters came to the club in scheduled waves to shower. Hoff and club owner Chris Stevenson stayed at the club for several hours until all the firefighters were done.
“They were so grateful,” Hoff said. “They hadn’t showered in three days and were supposed to be done with their shifts, but they had to keep going. They said that showers made such a huge difference.”
The air quality in the area was still poor when the club re-opened, Hoff said, but the people who came into the facility when it reopened seemed to want to get out of their houses and get back to a sense of normalcy.
“They want to tell their stories about evacuating and the things they saw, and they want to connect with others,” she said. “We want to be here for that.”