BONNYVILLE – Just after the lunch hour on June 13, camp-goers acted quickly when they noticed smoke rising from a Tuck Shop building at the Moose Lake Pentecostal Camp, located south of Highway 660 on Range Road 473A.
The building was being used as a gathering place that held snacks and treats, but was only used at select times throughout the day and evening, Duane Grant told Lakeland Today.
“Before the fire had started it had been locked up for the time being, because that is where all the candy was stored. And what is really sad is the day before we had brought in $4,000 worth of candy and pop in there in preparation for a Young Adults Camp for this weekend,” he reflected.
Grant is a pastor at the Bethal Family Worship Centre in St. Paul, and just happened to be camping at the time the fire broke out.
Once smoke was noticed coming from the building, the doors were opened and there was a large volume of fire had ignited the south portion of the structure.
“When we saw that the fire had already reached into the roof, we realized that all we could do was hopefully stop the fire from spreading beyond the building,” he said.
The fire department was called, and camp staff and guests began doing what they could to try and keep the fire from getting out of hand.
“People were working together and grabbing hoses – it just burned so fast,” he recalled. “We knew it was going to be a total loss, but we were focused on stopping it from spreading.”
Meanwhile, others at the camp had turned off the gas and power to the buildings prior to the fire crews arriving in an effort to do what they could to keep the situation from getting worse.
Bonnyville Regional Fire Authority’s (BRFA) Station 5 responded to the structure fire at 1:25 p.m., but by the time they arrived the building was almost fully engulfed in fire, stated Regional Fire Chief Dan Heney.
“Incident Command requested assistance from Station 3 Glendon to help establish water supply from the lake,” Heney noted.
In all, eight members of Station 5 Bonnyville and 10 members from Station 3 Glendon attended the fire.
“The fire was quickly brought under control, but the building was a complete loss,” said the fire chief.
And while the structure is now a pile of burnt rubble, Grant says the direction of the wind was a “huge blessing.”
“The wind was blowing in the perfect direction. It was blowing towards an open field but if it had blown any other direction, it could have started a forest fire or caught another building on fire.”
Fire crews were at the scene for the remainder of the day searching for any hotspots and to make sure the fire had been fully extinguished.
“They worked hard and did a great job,” said Grant.
As a thank you, campers came together to buy pizza and bottles of water for the firefighters.
“We wanted to thank them because often when they respond to fires, people are so caught up in the trauma of losing their home, they don’t really have the opportunity to show their appreciation,” Grant explained.
And while the fire is still under investigation, it is not believed to be suspicious in nature, stated Heney.
Grant noted that conversations in the aftermath of the blaze have placed some consideration to possibility of an electrical spark that may have been caused by a cooling appliance in the building.