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Community rallies to support fire-stricken Prince Rupert fitness business

A fire devastated Sweat Rebel’s building on Nov. 8, but community support has given the owners hope
Sweat Rebel owners Hannah Korhonen and Crystal Sawatzky said they are “lost for words” at the support from people across Prince Rupert. (Seth Forward/The Northern View)

When Hannah Korhonen smelled something odd while leading a 16-person spin class at Sweat Rebel Fitness, she was initially not alarmed, thinking it was an old belt on one of the studio’s bikes.

However, when she went to check on the adjacent room, it was clear a serious fire was occurring in the business’s 9th Avenue West building and she told everyone in the class to leave the building.

“We always get the odd smell when a bike needs to be replaced,” Korhonen said.

“I opened the door and then this insane amount of smoke came through and the fire was up the walls… I ran back to the spin room and I was like, ‘this is for real. You need to evacuate the building now.’”

The fire department promptly responded to the scary incident, but Korhonen said harmful chemicals from the fire continue to linger.

Since the fire occurred on Nov. 8, Korhonen and co-owner Crystal Sawatzky have received an outpouring of support from the community and are hoping to get their spin classes operational again as soon as possible.

“Our goal is to rally, to work hard and to get up and running again and come back even stronger, even more connected,” Korhonen said.

After the devastating fire occurred, a friend of the owners, Rose Ciotoli, quickly set up an online fundraiser, which currently has 89 items on auction. Ciotoli estimates the fundraiser will raise between $4,000 and $5,000.

“It’s been survival mode for the last week, but the community has been amazing,” said Sawatzky. “Businesses, members, everybody has been absolutely incredible in reaching out to support any way they can.”

For the two owners, the strong community connections are the reason they opened up shop in the first place.

“This community has been developed together, we’re so integrated,” said Korhonen. “It’s like a family.”

The Racquet Association, the building that Sweat Rebel operates out of, is owned by the City of Prince Rupert.

About the Author: Seth Forward, Local Journalism Initiative

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