Fire investigators are probing the cause of a Tuesday morning blaze that caused more than $1.2 million damage to a gymnastics facility on Aurora's far east side.
The gym was the employment center of former gymnastics coach Michael Cardamone, who was accused in 2002 of inappropriately touching 14 girls at the gym. It is still operated by his mother.
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The three-alarm fire was reported around 4 a.m. at American Gymnastics, 881 Shoreline Drive, Aurora spokesman Dan Ferrelli said.
The blaze caused significant damage to the gymnasium, leaving a hole in the building's back wall, Battalion Chief Tim Warren said.
Warren said the fire appears to have started in the back corner of the gymnasium, charring some equipment inside and burning a hole in the wall. It's too early in the investigation to determine the cause of the fire and whether it was suspicious, Ferrelli said.
Firefighters from Aurora and Naperville extinguished most of the blaze by 7 a.m., although a rubber layer of the roof continued burning until at least 9:30 a.m.
"We had to remove a large section of the top of the roof," Warren said.
Ferrelli said there were no injuries.
Aurora Fire Department investigators arrived about 9:15 a.m., Warren said. Traffic near the gymnasium in the Meadow Lakes Business Park was not affected.
Employees of American Gymnastics removed crates of files and tried to salvage as much as they could, said Paul Marsala, brother of one of the owners. An inch or more of water covered much of the floor, and ice coated crates and other items that earlier had been doused with water.
The building also houses a preschool and karate lesson center run by American Gymnastics, but those areas did not sustain much damage, said co-owner Alysha Millard. The business will close for now with plans to rebuild and reopen, she said.
"I've contacted other local facilities to help us house our current students and continue business as usual until we are able to open up American Gymnastics again," Millard said.
The gym gained widespread attention in 2002 when the charges were leveled against Cardamone.
A DuPage County jury convicted Cardamone in 2005 of abusing seven of the girls, but acquitted him of abusing seven others. The convictions and his 20-year sentence were overturned in 2008 by an appeals court, but DuPage prosecutors are planning to retry him.
Cardamone remains free on $550,000 bond, and has always stated he is innocent, Millard said.