Barkley business suffers $30,000 damage after man reportedly triggers fire sprinklers

The Anytime Fitness Barkley Village gym suffered estimated damages of more than $30,000 early Thursday after a 27-year-old man reportedly lit a piece of paper on fire, triggering the fire alarm and activating the building’s sprinkler system.

Bellingham police booked Anthony Jace Marroquin into Whatcom County Jail Thursday, Sept. 26, on suspicion of first-degree malicious mischief. Jail records show he was released Thursday evening on personal recognizance.

Police responded to the fire alarm in the 2200 block of Rimland Drive at approximately 1:10 a.m., Lt. Claudia Murphy told The Bellingham Herald, and found Marroquin outside the building. He reportedly told firefighters and officers that he had set the alarm on purpose and was willing to face responsibility for his actions.

Marroquin told police that he felt threatened by another person who came into gym, which is open 24 hours, Murphy said. Rather than calling 911 or leaving, Marroquin reportedly went into the bathroom, lit a piece of paper on fire and activated the fire alarm.

Murphy said officers found no evidence that Marroquin was threatened while inside the business.

In addition to the $30,000 worth of damage to Anytime Fitness, Murphy said other businesses in the building were affected, but the total amount of damage was not yet known.

Charley Fraser, who co-owns Anytime Business Barkley Village with Anthony Hamilton, said he was awoken at approximately 1:30 a.m. by the security company and found approximately an inch of water in portions of the gym when he arrived.

“We opened approximately two years ago, so it was still pretty much a brand new facility,” Fraser told The Herald. “It’s definitely not what we had hoped for. ... It dumped a ton of water.”

Fraser said the gym had to move weights and cardio machines out of the way and bring in a restoration service company to dry carpets, floors and walls that were damaged by the sprinkler.

Fortunately, only one sprinkler in the bathroom actually released water, Fraser said.

Anytime Fitness Barkley Village posted pictures on Facebook of fans being used to dry the gym and said it was “going to take a couple of days to dry out.” A follow-up post said all training and group training scheduled in Barkley Village would be held at the Cordata location (115 W. Kellogg Road) until clean up was completed.

“We’re optimistic we can get everything cleaned up and be opened again by Monday — at least a soft opening,” Fraser told The Herald.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.