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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

Arson suspected in Clearwater gymnastics school fire


Published:   |   Updated: June 29, 2014 at 06:51 PM

After hearing about a fire Saturday night at Apollo School of Gymnastics in Clearwater, Cheryl McLean and her family drove to the business Sunday morning to see for themselves.

They found boarded up doors and windows and the smell of smoke lingering in the air.

A glass case on the outside wall that the school used to announce class schedules and upcoming events held new sign posted by fire officials: Arson/Cash Rewards.

“Why would they do this to the kids,” said McLean, whose daughter Reagan has practiced gymnastics at the school for two years. “If they cared about the kids, they wouldn’t do it.”

Just after 10 p.m. Saturday, a Clearwater Police officer on patrol in the area smelled smoke and found the building at 2140 Range Road on fire.

It took about 50 firefighters around 30 minutes to bring the fire under control, officials said.

The State Fire Marshal’s Office is now investigating.

McLean said there has been turnover recently at the school.

A coach was fired after a parent found inappropriate electronic messages sent to a teenage student, according to an email from the school sent to parents on May 20.

As Reagan performed cartwheels in the parking lot outside the gym, McLean said her daughter will have to practice gymnastics at home for now.

“She’s sad,” McLean said. “I’m hoping they figure something out because she loves it.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 1-877-662-7766.

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