August 30, 2013 7:35 pm
Updated: August 31, 2013 10:03 pm

Fire destroys dining hall at church camp on Gambier Island

Camp Fircom. Credit: Sergio Magro

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A United Church camp on Gambier Island near Bowen Island has suffered major losses after a fire destroyed their dining hall during Thursday night’s lightning storm.

Camp Fircom had recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation and several camp members were on site last night during the storm.

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Board Chair Rich Overgaard says staff members had to move to one of the large buildings after a tree behind their cabin was completely split in half by a lightning strike.

He says the staff members at the camp realized between 5 and 6 a.m. this morning that the dining hall was on fire. The hall was completely engulfed in flames by the time they arrived.

As the camp is remote, there are no municipal services on site.

“We don’t have connection to any municipal services and we have our own fire hoses attached to water tanks,” says Overgaard.

“We got some help from neighbours, to prevent it from spreading to the forest and neighbouring buildings.”

Overgaard says he cannot confirm the fire is related to last night’s lightning storm, but it’s a strong possibility.

“I cannot speculate on how the fire started, inspectors, insurance companies need to come. We can only speculate it was related to the storm, because of the trees on site that were split.”

The camp is a non-profit society that helps get kids from all over the Lower Mainland get outside. It also provides rental space for community and school groups.

“We are looking in the short term to keep things open,” says Overgaard.

“We want to make sure we are up and running at full capacity as soon as we can, to help kids get outside and outdoors.”

He estimates the camp will lose between $100,000 and $150,000 in the short term due to loss of rental revenue.

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