A massive fire broke out early Wednesday morning in Haverhill, Massachusetts at one of the largest fitness facilities in the country.
Cedardale went up in flames just after 2 a.m. It took firefighters almost twelve hours to put out all the hot spots.
As authorities continue the investigation into how the fire started – the community is left wondering what’s next.
“This is like an institution, it’s always here and all of a sudden, it’s not,” said Cedardale member Hugh Maginnis.
The flames burned fast and furious and the news that Cedardale was on fire spread just as quickly.
“It’s a shock,” said Ann Jacobson who has been a member for almost 20 years.
By the time the sun came up, crowds gathered, and members looked on with heavy hearts. The damage is estimated as more than $2 million.
“It’s difficult,” said Plaistow resident Ron Soen. “Just hate to see it.”
The Haverhill health club has been Soen’s second home for more than four decades.
“We play tennis, we workout, go out for a cup of coffee, and have a beer or something like that,” Soen said.
It’s turned his workout buddies into lifelong friends.
“It’s almost like a brotherhood,” said member Joe Fedenyszen.
“It’s been a way of life,” Fred Michaelsen said.
And that’s exactly what Ed Veasey intended when he opened the doors back in 1971.
“We’ve just been trying to take a look, see what happened and where we go from there,” Veasey told NBC Boston on scene Wednesday.
Veasey is making a promise to his more than four thousand members that he will rebuild.
“We’re in it for the long haul, we will be back and better than ever,” said Cedardale Senior Manager Mary Lynch.
But until then - a void that’s almost impossible to fill.
When we asked Soen what he’ll do now, he responded, “I have no idea right now.”
“It just shows you though, you can’t take anything for granted,” Maginnis said.
The manager tells NBC Boston they hope to re-open a portion of the facility as early as this weekend.
Authorities are still determining where and how the fire started.