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Green Barn Fire 1956

Bear Lodge Razed by Fire:

Fire destroyed the Bear Lodge, or "Green Barn" on Pine Point in the early morning hours of Friday, August 24. No injuries resulted from the fire and, indeed, no one was at any time endangered. Thanks to the prompt response and efficient work of the Weld Fire Department, the blaze was brought under control before it could spread into the surrounding woods and any possible threat to other camp buildings was thereby averted before it could develop.

The fire originated in the pump room, or shed, attached to the north side of the building. The exact cause has not been determined. It is generally believed, however, that the explanation lies in some mechanical or electrical failure.

Shortly after 4:00 A.M. the crackle of burning wood aroused Mr. Del Tracy, Senior Counselor of the Bears, to find that the fire had already taken the whole of the small wing which housed the pump and was threatening the main part of the structure. He quickly awakened the other members of the lodge. Although the blaze spread rapidly into the central part of the building, the Bears had valuable minutes in which to remove not only themselves, but also the major part of their possessions, from the dormitory room.

The steady tolling of the big bell back of the kitchen spread the alarm through the whole camp and brought the sleeping lodges to the alert. By that time the fire had swept into the whole of the Barn's main section and, across the dark waters of the cove the flames were to be seen towering treetop-high. While the bell was still sounding, the water tank of the Green Barn pump exploded with a loud report, shooting sparks well back into the woods.

The volunteer fire company of Weld was notified by telephone. Within a brief period of minutes it was on the scene with its equipment, and had its hoses and power pump in action. The trained fire fighters of the department prevented the spread of the flames into the trees around the barn, although one birch had caught, and even saved the two-car garage built against the west end of the building. The main section of the Bear Lodge burned to the ground and the pump room was demolished. The situation was entirely under control by 5:00 A.M., although the fire department stayed on duty for another hour, felling the last standing wall and damping down the smouldering remains.

The building was a total loss. The lodge members saved their trunks, which were more or less packed in preparation for departure. The loss in personal possessions was limited to some bedding and such scattered articles as shoes. Thanks to the quick thinking of Mr. Tracy, both cars parked in the adjoining garage were removed to safety immediately after the discovery of the fire. Both the building and the contents were covered by insurance. For the remaining day and night of the camping season, the Bears were given temporary quarters in the Infirmary and Pine Lodge.

The Green Barn was one of the original buildings standing on Pine Point when that property was annexed to the camp in the mid-Thirties. As a camp building it at one time housed a dark room and over the years was used sporadically as an overflow dormitory. In 1953 it was extensively remodeled with its own washroom and toilet facilities for its more efficient use as a lodge, and at that time it was rechristened the Bear Lodge. The pump serving all the buildings on Pine Point has, since pre-Kawanhee time, been located in the little shed built against the north wall of the former barn and boathouse. A new lodge, designed specifically for that purpose and minus pump houses, will be built on the site.

While such an event as this fire would scarcely be recommended as a deliberately arranged morale-builder, the total effect was in the end more reassuring than alarming. The reassurance arose from the recognition of the good judgement and quick action displayed by the Bears, particularly Mr. Tracy, in meeting the emergency; from an appreciation of the rapidity and efficiency of the protection provided by the Weld Fire Department; and from the vindication of the long verbal struggle to preserve the integrity of the bell as an alarm signal. This last is relatively a minor point, but its value was surely proved conclusively to every boy who ever entertained fleeting thoughts of what fun it would be to give the bell's chain a good yank at some odd hour. Friday morning its persistent ringing had the whole camp on its feet within a couple of minutes and it was heard and answered from as far away as the head of the lake. This would not have been true had it been allowed, through thoughtless high spirits, to fall into the Wolf-wolf category.