LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A historical building at Dry Creek Baptist Camp burned Wednesday afternoon.
The fire at the old schoolhouse known to locals at “the white house” was expected to result in a total loss of the structure, Beauregard Sheriff Mark Herford confirmed.
Dry Creek Baptist Camp shared a Facebook live of the fire, saying “We desperately need your prayer.”
Herford said he was “heartbroken” at the news, adding that he had stayed in the building before.
“That building is such an important part of that community and to Beauregard Parish,” Herford said. “This is a huge loss for that community and the parish.”
Herford said officials were reaching out to the Fire Marshal’s Office out of an abundance of caution to determine the cause of the fire.
Investigators believe that a lightning strike could have been the cause. The National Weather service has confirmed there to have been thunder storms in the area at the time of the fire.
The large white house on Highway 113, that once served as Dry Creek staple, was brought down in under an hour.
“The whole thing lasted probably 45 minutes from the time that we figured that it started ‘til the time that final walls collapsed,” said Todd Burnaman, director of the Dry Creek Baptist Camp.
He said the Dry Creek volunteer department was able to respond within 15 minutes, “100 year old building, built out of virgin pine timber, rich lighter pine, we’ve always communicated with the volunteer fire department here that the job wasn’t going to be to save the building. That wasn’t going to happen.”
Burnaman said many Dry Creek residents have stopped by to mourn the loss of what was once a high school, then a place of spiritual retreat. The camp bought the building nearly 30 years ago and ran it as a retreat-like hotel and meeting space.
“It’s a tool that the lord gave us for a time and so for whatever reason he decided to take it away...we may never know why that is.”
Despite the loss, Burnaman still holds onto his faith, “just pray for us to have courage because whatever road it is the lord’s taking us down is going to be a tough one... The good thing is that our purpose here is eternal.”