Locals raise more than $20k for victims of Cobble Hill gym fire

Firefighters work to subdue a five-alarm blaze at a newly-opened fitness center in Cobble Hill on March 14.
Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

Days after a fire destroyed 10 apartments and badly damaged a new downtown Brooklyn fitness center, locals have raised more than $20,000 for those impacted.

The blaze broke out at 98 Boerum Place around 10:30 am on March 14 and quickly grew to a five-alarm inferno that raged for three hours before being knocked down by first responders.

The two-story building at the corner of Boerum Place and Pacific Street — near the border of Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill — is currently home to a UFC Fit on the first floor, with the second floor designated to residential apartments. The gym, formerly a New York Sports Club, opened just eight weeks ago, according to social media posts.

At least a dozen non life-threatening injuries were reported by the New York City Fire Department following the fire, but according to Councilmember Lincoln Restler, 18 in total were hurt. Everyone inside the building was safely and successfully evacuated and treated, the pol said, but nine families lost everything.

“These Boerum Hill neighbors have lived in our community for many years — some for decades,” Restler wrote on one of two GoFundMe pages for victims. “While we are fortunate that none of the 18 injuries were life-threatening, many residents lost everything they owned today. The nine households who have been living here include two families with kids, three dogs, two cats, and a fish.”

firefighters at boerum hill fitness center fire
Firefighters work to control the blaze.Photo by Lloyd Mitchell

As of Friday morning, the pol’s page had brought in more than $13,000 toward a $25,000 goal.

“I am often inspired by the compassion and generosity of the Boerum Hill neighborhood,” Restler said. “While much of what was lost today can never be replaced, please give what you can to help these families get back on their feet.”

A similar GoFundMe, spearheaded by Boerum Hill Association President Howard Kolins, has raised close to $7,000 toward a $15,000 goal.

“[Victims] appear to be a complete loss,” Kolins wrote on the online fundraising page. “We are working to identify all the residents who now have nothing. Your funds will help them get immediate supplies, assist with resources to find new housing and will also give them emotional support. Please donate whatever you can and show your concern for your neighbors.”

At a press conference on the scene, Acting Chief of Department John Hodgens said the fire started somewhere on the second floor before quickly spreading.

“This was a very labor-intensive fire where the roof was used for some type of tennis court with a foam insulation” he said, “and once that starts burning, it’s difficult to extinguish.”

The cause of the fire remains under investigation by the city’s fire marshals. 

UFC Fit did not respond to a request for comment.