Fire destroys gym at New Life Ranch

January 17, 2013

A 13,000-square foot gymnasium at New Life Ranch in Colcord, Okla., burned to the ground Friday. No one was injured in the blaze and the cause has not yet been determined.

Dozens of firefighters from nearby Siloam Springs, Ark., and rural departments in Oklahoma responded but the building could not be saved. Five interns at the Christian camp were living in the cabin portion of the gym and all of their belongings were destroyed.

“We praise God that no one was injured including many firefighters from surrounding communities including West Siloam Springs, Kansas, Flint Ridge, Colcord, Jay and Oaks,” Executive Camp Director David Jaquess said in an e-mail to New Life Ranch supporters. “We don’t know the cause of the fire, but the fire marshal’s office will be here on Monday to investigate.”

The 1,000-acre camp had 250 campers coming from Little Rock plus the choir from nearby John Brown University scheduled for a retreat last weekend and those were not cancelled.

“We will have our biggest group (about 450-500) of the year next weekend,” Jaquess said. “We praise God for the Soderquist Conference Center to have for these groups. We have five guy interns that were living in the front rooms attached to the gym. They lost everything except what they were wearing.

“Thanks for your prayers as we make plans to replace the gym. This will be a challenge for an already very busy facilities crew. We must also figure out where the interns are going to live and adjust schedules without the use of the gym.”

Camp officials will meet with insurance representatives this week to see about replacement plans.

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