KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — Kernersville Fire Department responded to a fire at Skate World on West Mountain Street around noon Sunday. Multiple agencies had to assist with putting the fire out and making sure the building was successfully evacuated.
Skate World owner, Lisa Blakely, said the Blakely family has owned the business for 50 years.
10 years ago, Lisa Blakely and her husband, Michael, took over the business
"My brother honored my dad's wishes when he passed to make sure this place stayed open," said Michael Blakely's brother, Bob Blakely.
"We took over the family business to continue the legend and it was so near and dear to our heart," said Lisa Blakely.
Lisa said their love for the business went beyond just making money.
"We met here 40 years ago," she said.
Last year, came the heartbreak for the family after Michael Blakely passed away.
"Unfortunately he passed away 10 months ago, unexpectedly," she said.
"It's been really hard on the family, so I just want to thank the community for supporting Skate World and standing behind Lisa and her son, Brandon, when my brother passed, I miss him and I know he's looking down on us," said Bob Blakely.
Sunday's fire pushed the family into an even deeper heartbreak, after losing another thing that was close to their hearts.
Lisa Blakely said early on Sunday, workers were inside fixing the building's water drainage system. By noon, Lisa said the work was done and no one was inside.
It was at that time that she got the call about the flames filling up her business.
"I pulled up and it was all blocked off, you know smoke everywhere, but it was one of those calls you don't want to get," said Lisa Blakely. "Nobody was here, nobody was inside, none of the firefighters were hurt, that's the main thing."
The community outpour of memories, love and support has been flooding in. That rink is what some would call the heart of Kernersville.
"The love of the community and the love of Skate World has been phenomenal and they've always showed the community such love, Skate World means a lot to me and this community," said community member Karen Wilkins. "I grew up coming here a lot of Friday nights, met a lot of friends, friends from school, and I also have memories of bringing kids here on church buses, from Gospel Light Baptist church, a lot of kids wouldn't get to come otherwise but got to come here on Sunday afternoon and were always treated with the utmost respect, just so many memories here and great friends."
"That whole family is love," said Michelle Friddle, who has been coming to Skate World since she was a child. "This place is a landmark for this community. I am 50 and came here as a child, my aunt and uncle had Kids World Learning Center and brought children here on field trips in the summer, I skated here as a child and it's just horrific, it's awful and I hope the community pulls together and helps Lisa and Brandon rebuild, and I feel like they will."
"When I found out I was heartbroken because I've never missed an all-night skate night here ever," said Kayla Norris, who comes to the rink often. "Me and my best friends use to come here, there's even friends that passed away that I used to come here with, and then my kids started coming here and my autistic son, they've shown nothing but love to."
Wyatt Andrew and Finn Andrew are kids who came many times for birthday parties and to learn to skate.
"It was super fun and I learned how to skate here and it's super fun," said Wyatt Andrew. "It is sad, it is very sad, I am just glad that everyone is okay and that nobody got hurt.
"A lot of memories, I learned to roller-skate here, my wife met my mother for the first time before we got married so that was exciting for her, but my dad it was important to him just to make sure this was up to keep the kids off the street, be a safe place to come to, there's a lot of memories," said Bob Blakely. "Hopefully they'll be able to rebuild and be able to continue to share some more memories with the community."
Monday, several people came up to the business to show their support during such a tough time for the family.
Lisa Blakely said it's that love that will keep Skate World's heart going and hopes to either rebuild or remodel so the memories stay alive.
"I just want to thank the community for all of their outpouring love and support because I know it means a lot to them because it means a lot to us," she said. "My father-in-law started the motto years ago and it's on everywhere in the building the family that skates together, stays together, so it's planning on keeping the family together and helping the community, so I just want to thank everybody and especially the firefighters for all the work they did through the heat and the smoke, it was so hot in there, it's charred, just thank them for their hard work and glad no one was hurt."
There were a total of 64 firefighters and emergency services personnel and 24 emergency apparatus on the scene throughout the incident.
There were no reported injuries. Kernersville Fire Marshal's Office has ruled the fire to be accidental and unintentional.