Blind Bargains

Portion of Enchanted Hills Camp Destroyed by California Wildfires, Lighthouse Pledges to Rebuild

A major portion of Enchanted Hills Camp including staff and camper residences has been destroyed by the California wildfires.
The fires have destroyed the permanent residence for 5 staff members as well as various buildings and structures in the area known as lower camp. Other buildings including the dining hall and lakeside cabins remain intact as of Monday Evening.
The news was delivered in an Email from San Francisco Lighthouse CEO Bryan Bashin. No events will be scheduled at the camp for the coming months, and a fund has been established to rebuild and improve upon the portions of the camp which have been destroyed.
The camp was previously evacuated as the fires approached, and no staff or campers were on site during the fires.
More details are included in the Email which is pasted below:

Dear Friends of Enchanted Hills Camp,

For the last week the extended LightHouse community has been aching to have some ground truth about what will become of our beloved Enchanted Hills Camp.

Today, all roads to camp remain closed, active fires are still burning in the area, and Enchanted Hills remains in the center of the worst wildfire in recorded California history. We now have more substantial information to share about the state of our 311-acre property, and will continue to update you as details emerge.

After a week of continued wind, dry weather and persistent uncontained fires, embers eventually found their way to set fire to our vegetation and eventually the structures of much of lower camp, an area dense with redwoods, camp cabins, staff lodging and our hand-constructed natural Redwood Theater.

Before today, when we were sent new photographs from Napa Supervisor Ryan Gregory, we only had satellite images, which we followed day-by-day, hour-by-hour, as a sea of red encircled our camp. For most of the week the satellite maps showed camp surrounded but unscathed by fire. Though the fire eventually made it onto the property, we believe that our ongoing fire prevention efforts over the past seven years did make a difference during this crucial period.

As far as we ve learned, most of Upper Camp has survived the devastation, but most of lower camp did not. I want to share as much information as we have today to help our community understand the challenges we face as we rally our resources and guide charitable giving to rebuild Enchanted Hills Camp, stronger than ever.

In the photograph below you can see some of the devastation in lower camp; Ryan Gregory snapped this photo of a Douglas fir tree still actively on fire, and the blackened lower camp landscape behind it.

An active fire at the base of a Douglas fir tree.

We know that we lost most of the structures in lower camp, including the 10 cabins that housed up to 120 summer campers since the 1950s. The photo below shows the complete devastation of these cabins, as well as the remains of the Boystown bathrooms. Also in the area, we lost the Assistant Director s cabin and some storage buildings. The Foss cabin, miraculously, appears to be in tact.

A storage shed in lower camp was reduced to ashes.

A final and heartbreaking photo, below, shows the remains of our cinder block staff house which up until last week was home for five permanent camp employees. Other storage sheds and outbuildings also took a hit, and there are still some key buildings of which we still await a status update. Our dedicated site staff, who had very little time to rescue their possessions from the threat of fire and are now, like so many others, mourning the loss of their homes.

The burnt out cinder block staff house.

The good news from Supervisor Gregory s photographs is that the major capabilities of Upper Camp are still there. The photo below shows our Art Barn and studio, completely intact. So are the Lodge, the Hogan, and the Kiva, shown in the accompanying photos. We have also heard that the large dining hall is in good shape and so are the Lakeside cabins; the photo below is of Lakeside #1. The pool, the horse barn and the gathering house all seem to be standing.

The Art Barn stands unscathed.

We know from local officials that it may be days or weeks until electrical power is restored to camp. Needless to say we ll host no groups there for months to come, until the situation is stabilized and the safety from weakened trees and compromised infrastructure is inspected and repaired.

We extend a heartfelt thank you to Napa Supervisor Ryan Gregory of District 2 for personally traveling to Enchanted Hills and taking the time and trouble to photograph the situation while the fires and smoke are thick. EHC could have no truer friend than Ryan.

I want the large and extended LightHouse community to know that we are committed to building back Enchanted Hills Camp stronger and better than ever, both as a summer camp for the blind and a treasured Napa retreat center. The reconstruction of lower camp will give us opportunities to build in accessibility and modern comforts for generations of campers to come. But before that we need to tend to our staff, our operations and the planning, reforestation and construction that likely will occupy us for years to come.

The LightHouse has started a dedicated fund to help rebuild Enchanted Hills stronger and better. Should you wish to help, please follow the link and we ll be grateful for the same kind of loving pitch-in community support that has kept our camp thriving for 67 years.

We also know that we re still not out of the woods yet. The unburned parts of camp could still fall prey to embers from the hundreds of thousands of burning acres around us. We ll get contractors on property the moment we re allowed to protect what we have prior to our reconstruction efforts.

We promise to keep you informed more fully after we have staff on the ground and do a thorough inspection. But in the meantime we are most grateful for the torrent of email, telephone conversations and love hundreds of you have shown over the last week. With such positive energy I know our beloved Enchanted Hills will once again be the remarkable place we all share.

Kind regards,

Bryan Bashin

Category: News

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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.

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