Blaze scorches downtown Northampton hot tub spa

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  • A Holyoke firefighter, top, aboard a ladder tower douses the top story of East Heaven Hot Tubs on West Street in Northampton on Monday, June 7, 2021. FIrefighters from Easthampton and South Deerfield also responded to the call. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • An Easthampton firefighter douses smoldering rafters on the top story of East Heaven in Northampton on Monday. The blaze destroyed the top and middle decks of the spa. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Firefighters on a Holyoke ladder tower douse the top story of East Heaven on West Street in Northampton on Monday. Firefighters from several other towns also responded to the call. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • South Deerfield Fire Chief William Swasey keeps hydrated during his department's mutual aid response to a fire at East Heaven Hot Tubs in Northampton on Monday, June 7, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • A rear view of East Heaven Hot Tubs on West Street in Northampton where a fire destroyed the top and middle decks on Monday, June 7, 2021. —STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 6/8/2021 9:54:44 AM

NORTHAMPTON — East Heaven hot tubs spa employee Eylul Grinuk thought she heard rain coming down late Monday afternoon. But when she looked up at the roof, she saw fire.

“I started to shout fire, called 911, got everyone out,” she said.

Fortunately for Grinuk and other employees, a Northampton Fire Department engine was coming back from a fire alarm and spotted the roof fire from Route 66, stopping to assist and calling in the fire at 5:23 p.m.

“It was lucky,” Grinuk said.

Deputy Fire Chief Mike Hatch said the fire would have been much worse had the firefighters not been passing by and spotted it.

Fire Chief Jon Davine said the fire was largely knocked down within 10 minutes, but not before it caused significant damage.

“The roof has been pretty much burned off,” Davine said. Hatch estimated damage to the building at $500,000, and damage to an adjecent building at $5,000.

The blaze was a two-alarm fire, in part due to the hot weather, and mutual aid was supplied by multiple communities — lining the portion of West Street near the business with firetrucks.

West Street was closed to traffic while the fire was being fought and was reopened around 8 p.m., according to Hatch.

One firefighter had a minor injury, and no civilians were hurt. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

East Heaven has been a Northampton institution for decades, first opening in 1981.

Standing outside his business Ken Shapiro, one of East Heaven’s founders, said that he intended to continue on.

“I’ve had the best life,” Shapiro said. “I soak friends and sweethearts, families, and everybody leaves with a smile.”

He also said that the business is insured, and estimated that 1.25 million people have enjoyed its tubs.

Shapiro said he doesn’t know what the situation is with reopening the business.

“No one’s letting us in to look around,” he said.

He did say, however, that there was no doubt about the fate of the rooftop hot tubs.

“They don’t exist,” he said.

Shapiro’s son and business partner is currently out of cellphone range while doing a days-long hike in California.

“I don’t even know if I’ll tell him until he gets back,” Shapiro said. “Why ruin a good trip?”

He also praised the response of the fire department.

“They’re awesome,” he said.

Robin Shapiro, Shapiro’s wife, was in the basement when Grinuk alerted her and other employees of the fire.

“She ran through the whole building yelling ‘fire, fire,” Shapiro said. “If she didn’t do that we would be in more trouble than we are.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at 

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