Rebuilding Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind #RebuildEHC
I have had the pleasure of being involved with Enchanted Hills Camp in the past and plan on being involved in the future. However, presently we need more people to be involved right now as Enchanted Hills Camp is in need of your support and donations to help put EHC back into operations as normal. All the work and effort for fire abatement has paid off as nearly all the structures that were re-roofed and all the efforts over the last 7 years of clearing brush, tree management and the construction of fire roads has protected some of the most essential buildings and forests. But there has been so much lost to this latest fire.
the latest report, posted below is from the San Fransisco Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Click on that link and you will find an electronic form to submit your donation. See below for other means of donating and giving your support.
Just a couple of months ago I had the honor of staying at EHC for 15 days and assisting George Wurtzel in teaching 2 Wood Working for the Blind workshops. With the camp filled upon my early arrival, we stayed in the Assistant Director’s cabin in lower camp and I was saddened to hear the fire took that cabin as well as most the cabins in lower camp.
The Redwood Grove amphitheater’s main stage was lost as well. These areas may seem like just locations but if you had ever visited EHc and did the walk down to the amp a theater, U2 would feel such a great loss as I do. There is no place like this. No place at all.
And with your support and donations, let the rebuild begin.
My heart goes out to the staff members who lost all their belongings and homes to the fire. In my stays at EHC, I have found that there exist a staff that is second to none and through your support and donations the EHC on-site staff will be that much closer to bringing back the EHC environment that we all have come to enjoy.
Yes, the Tactile Art Barn still stands and another Woodworking event will come about but until the rebuild begins and the public is allowed back in, there is so much we all can do to ensure EHC starts scheduling events and creating opportunities. Please help support Rebuild EHC.
Here is a copy of the latest from Enchanted hills Camp.
Image of LightHouse Logo
Image description: Two firefighters survey a freshly burnt area in front of the untouched cook’s cabin for remaining hot spots.Tim and Tony stand in the dirt road, both stroking their chins.
Dear Extended LightHouse Family,
This Friday afternoon we want to conclude the week with news about Enchanted Hills Camp, a few recent photographs, and some emerging stories about how some integral parts of camp survived.
As recently as last night the camp still had numerous smoldering hot spots, but the early morning rains helped enormously to limit the remaining fire danger. Mt. Veeder Road is still closed to all but first responders, an unprecedented 12 days after the fire. We’re hoping that normal Mt. Veeder Road access will be granted early next week. We’re also hoping that the hundreds of PG&E crews will get our neighbors’ electricity up and running again. However, because of the massive burn of our camp wide electrical wiring, it will be months before regular electricity lights any major camp buildings.
On Wednesday our intrepid LightHouse Producer, Camilla Sterne was able to accompany Camp Director Tony Fletcher and our dauntless contractor Tim Gregory for a visual inspection of how camp has fared. The results are alarming but hint at how we’ll rebuild in the future. The strange randomness of fire and the hard work of this week’s firefight can be seen throughout the property.
Our new Tactile Art Barn and Woodworking Studio escaped unscathed, but immediately adjacent to it the Porta Potty was reduced to dust. A thicket of vegetation burned black right up to the Art Barn but miraculously the barn survived, likely with the help of the dedicated Cal Fire crews who have been on-site for days keeping advancing flames at bay.
Image description: Enchanted Hills Camp Director Tony Fletcher and contractor Tim Gregory stand in front of the unscathed Art Barn speaking with two firefighters. Flames came just feet from the Art Barn, leaving ash and burn along the embankment around the structure and reducing the portapotty to a tidy circle of white ash.
Image description: Tim and Tony stand facing a pile of fire-scarred corrugated metal roofing, chairs and shelves that were once part of the garage and shed in upper camp. A single propane tank peeks out of the rubble — miraculously still intact.
Our other new space, the Redwood Grove Theater, is yet another contrast study, with the lovely, accessible stage built by our Napa Kiwanis partners completely destroyed, while many of the hand-carved redwood benches standing proudly to host performances for years to come. For this too, we have our firefighters to thank. As our team entered the beautiful grove, the large redwood trees still offering green needles, they spied a note tacked on the grove’s sign. In the midst of the fire, engine company #98 from Los Angeles Fire Department left us a note at the theater’s threshold: “We saved this, wish we could have saved more.”
There were other victories among the devastation. The Friday before the fire started on Sunday we had just finished re-roofing our entire dining hall with a Class A fire retardant new roof, the first in nearly 40 years. Our team clambered up on the roof to see the new roof unscathed, though with hundreds of small embers which harmlessly burned themselves out on it, surely saving camp’s largest and most valuable structure.
Image description:A note on the back of the partially charred Redwood Grove sign reads: “LAFD Engine 98. We saved this, wish we could have saved more.”
But our team’s visit to camp was a mix of victories and heartbreaking losses. In the accompanying photographs, readers can see the scene of devastation throughout camp. Beyond the loss of all 10 Lower Camp cabins, we’ve discovered that we lost the bridge and most of the benches in the Creekside Lower Chapel, as well as the Kiva bridge. We lost both boys’ and girls’ bathrooms, the massive roller rink building, the new decking, shade structure and bathhouse around our large swimming pool. Our treehouse is gone, as is the Assistant Director’s cabin and all of the structures in the sensory area. Some of our new water lines are destroyed and every standing building is full of choking smoke, contaminating bedding, carpet, ceiling and furniture.
The most aching physical loss may be the large staff house, which burned to rubble, destroying the home of five camp staff and all of their personal possessions. Our camp staff remain, frankly, stunned by their sudden dislocation. The LightHouse is working with them to ensure a smooth transition into new housing as they rebuild their lives away from the property they helped make beautiful.
Image description: The road leading to lower camp is strewn with ash and wood. A hotspot in the foreground smokes in the light while a propane tank sits in the midst of charred logs and a snow-like layer of ash.
Image description: Tim Gregory walks down the hill toward the pool. In front of him lies what’s left of the bath house: a charred wooden frame and a swath of limp metal roofing.
Image description: Firefighters collect water from the pool to put out lingering hot spots and patches of fire on Enchanted Hill property.
What our advisors are telling us is that it will be many months before camp will be functional enough to allow our staff to go about the work of rebuilding. Hundreds of precarious burned trees, downed power lines, and toxic building remains all need to be addressed, as well as reconstruction of the electrical, water and waste infrastructure to make camp habitable. For the immediate future, we mustn’t allow the public to visit camp for any reason; our entrance road will be closed and contractors will be charged to turn away all trespassers. Please, for the safety of camp reconstruction, do not make plans to visit until we issue our first community invitation, likely no sooner than summer 2018.
What we need now is creative ideas, heartfelt testimonials and donations. While the cleanup work is a heavy lift, we have seasoned professionals to rely upon, with deep roots in Napa. Once we’ve made camp safe, reinstated electrical wiring, refreshed our water supply and developed a plan for building back, then we will need volunteers: to clean, construct, reforest, and a thousand other preparatory tasks to rebuild lower camp stronger and better than ever.
If you’re moved by Camilla Sterne’s photographs of camp and have the desire and means to help today, the LightHouse has established simple, secure ways to give directly to Enchanted Hills camp, including a new option to give by text message.
Just in the last few days, our friends and neighbors and you have already begun the rebuilding process with us with your thoughtful words and gifts. These contributions will pay for reconstruction, restaffing, and rebuilding not only the structures in Napa, but the spirit of Enchanted Hills that will spring from them in the years to come. For that, we couldn’t be more grateful.
Give by phone: Call Jennifer Sachs at 415-694-7333.
Send Mail / In-Person gifts to:
LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1155 Market St., 10th Floor San Francisco, CA 94103
(please write “Rebuild EHC” on the check)
The LightHouse is committed to keeping the community up to date with these periodic updates about our camp and its rebuilding. It is so very empowering to be supported by a community as kind and engaged as ours.
In deep appreciation,
Bryan Bashin Signature