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Fire heavily damages business building in Thurston County

Three businesses, including a gym, are now reduced to charred rubble in Yelm

YELM, Wash. — Fire crews responded to a commercial building fire in Yelm early Wednesday morning that heavily damaged three businesses.

Around 1 a.m., firefighters with the SE Thurston Fire Authority received the call about flames shooting up the building, located at a shopping complex on E Yelm Avenue near NE 103rd Avenue.

"It's horrible.These are family businesses. We're a small community here and they've lost their livelihood," SE Thurston Fire Authority Battalion Chief Kevin Denton said.

Denton said a cause has not been determined and video will be studied to figure out what sparked the fire. Fire crews are also looking into whether the fire possibly started in an exterior part of the building.

Denton said the preliminary estimated loss is valued at $1.5 million. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting with the investigation due to the high monetary value of loss.

The fire burned through three businesses, including a fitness gym, a spa and a nail salon. An auto parts store in the same building suffered minor damage, Denton said.

Melanie Medlock, the owner of Freedom Training Center, said the damage is devastating. While the loss of her business takes a heavy toll, she is thinking about the roughly 500 members who attend her gym.

"How are people going to work out? What are people going to do? My first instinct was, 'is anybody in the building?'" Medlock told KING 5.

The fitness center moved to the Yelm Avenue location three years ago but Medlock had worked toward the gym at another location for several years. She said the fire is only a temporary setback.

"I'm standing here and I'm alive, and just the power of people's words and support, I know that we'll be okay," Medlock said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Medlock and can be found here.

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