A motorist traveling on Interstate 77 was the first to spot flames tearing through the Our Lady of the Elms athletic complex in Bath Township early Sunday morning.
School officials say by the time fire crews made their way to the complex, which is home to the school's tennis, track, soccer and softball teams, flames already had destroyed a large building that houses restrooms and concessions and stores athletic equipment. The facility also is used by other Akron-area students who are part of the Diocese of Cleveland's Catholic Youth Organization.
The fire was reported about 12:30 a.m.
School officials have closed the complex as fire officials investigate the fire's cause. Inspectors have deemed the area “unsafe.”
“We are grateful that no one was hurt, for the Elms employees who are handling this situation and for the brave firefighters who responded to the call,” Elms chief administrators Carli Kistler-Miller, Marie Reichart and Ruth Friedman said in an email to parents Sunday.
The Elms dedicated the $1.6-million, 16-acre athletic complex on Ira Road in 2001 after it was annexed from the Crown Point Ecology Center. It has two soccer fields, two softball fields, six tennis courts and an eight-lane, 400-meter track.