Tonawanda News — A small fire caused an evacuation at North Tonawanda’s Payne Park Memorial Pool on Friday afternoon, just hours after it opened to kick off the summer season.
About 125 people were moved out of the pool area when North Tonawanda Fire Chief John Lapham said an electrical fire in the mechanical room at 4:19 p.m. was put out by a firefighter with an extinguisher.
“People were in the pool, they were evacuated,” he said. “Everything went very smoothly.”
But despite the size of the blaze and the success of the evacuation, there was more significant damage, Lapham said, as city officials try to determine to what extent.
“It was a small fire but it was mostly electrical so it fried the circuit,” he said. “The pool is going to remain closed.”
The incident took place just as city officials opened a newly-refurbished water slide along with the pool itself. Patty Brosius, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the cause of the fire is still being investigated but appears it may keep the pool out of service through all of next week.
“We don’t know what happened,” she said, less than an hour after the fire, adding that it appeared the pool would remain closed through the weekend until the issue is examined by an electrician.
The electrical issues caused by the blaze will also shutter the nearby wading pool. Brosius said the city will send out a public notice when a determination is made. Plans are also in the works to move swimming lessons to a North Tonawanda school beginning on Tuesday, though her department will notify those who have signed up.
“We’ll let everybody know when we can open again,” she said. “Everybody will be contacted about swimming lessons, too.”