A fire Thursday at the Old Gym in Williams could have resulted in a devastating loss to the community had it not been for the Williams Fire Department’s quick response.
Williams Fire Chief Jeff Gilbert said firefighters arrived within four minutes of the 911 call and had the fire extinguished within five minutes.
The fire was reported around 3 PM on Thursday after a resident saw smoke coming from the building’s north side.
Gilbert said the fire is considered suspicious, and the Williams Police Department is following leads to determine if the blaze is the result of arson.
The Old Gym is a separate structure from the original Williams Union High School used as a school facility until 1956.
Williams Unified School District transferred ownership of the property to the City of Williams in the 1960s. The old high school, constructed in 1911, houses the Sacramento Valley Museum. The Old Gym is used for community events, such as the annual Antique Bottle Show.
The Williams City Council recently dedicated $177,000 of its Proposition 68 per capita grant for renovations to help the city maintain the structure as a viable facility for community events and private functions. The city has earmarked the funds to rehabilitate the Old Gym kitchen and a basketball court and construct ADA-compliant restrooms.
While Thursday’s fire started on the northeast side of the Old Gym, where the kitchen is located, Gilbert said the damage from the blaze was contained to the outside wall.
Gilbert estimates that damage to be about $5,000.