Fire at summer camp causes $500,000 in damages

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COOKE COUNTY, TX - A summer camp is picking up the pieces after a massive fire over the weekend destroyed one of their buildings.

Now as summer sessions come to a close, camp staff said their focus is to rebuild so campers aren't left with nowhere to go.

The fire happened at Camp Sweeny in Whitesboro. It's a non-profit camp for children with diabetes.

It's been open since 1950 and serves more than a 1,000 kids from 30 states and 5 countries every summer.

It gives these kids a place to be themselves and forget the daily battle with their condition.

But now Camp Sweeny is facing a battle of its own.

The three-alarm fire broke out Sunday afternoon at Camp Sweeny burning their 4,000 square-foot multi-purpose building and everything inside.

SOT: (program dir) "It started in our laundry facility and progressed into the dry storage area of the building and unfortunately took the building to the ground," said Preston Walhood, senior associate program director.

Crews from Whitesboro, Oak Ridge, Callisburg, Gainesville and Lindsay fire departments helped battle the blaze.

But by the time they got the fire out there was nothing left to salvage.

"We lost everything in our arts and crafts facility. All of our supplies that had been donated. As well as our entire laundry facility with 14 washers and dryers, our dry storage, as well as a couple of jet skis and trailers," said Walhood.

Heat from the fire also damaged a few staff members' vehicles.

Officials estimate the fire did nearly $500,000 in damage.

"We've always have had a lot of challenges over the years but we've never had a fire at a facility, that I know of, in all of its 60 years," said Dr. Ernie Fernandez, camp director.

Fortunately, the fire was contained to the arts and crafts facility and camp officials said the kids were never at risk.

"Being a medical camp we're used to talking to parents early and often. So we immediately sent out an email to let them know that we had had a fire at camp but all of the kids and staff were safe and that no one was ever in danger of the fire," said Walhood.

Administrators said they plan to rebuild the facility and will soon start a financial campaign for a new structure.

If you would like to help out Camp Sweeny, here is a link to their website:

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