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Jun 22, 2011

Update: Camp Allen Helps Firefighters as Fires Rage Just Miles Away


Update (2:30 p.m. Thursday): "The rains have done the job.  We are  so grateful.  Even though it was reported that Jennifer from our front desk had lost her house in the fire, though she had not been able to go back home.  All appears okay and we are excited to hear that news as well." - Camp Allen President George Dehan


Update: As firefighters continued to battle the Grimes County fires, the fire line came as close as 3.5 miles from Camp Allen. Today, fire crews and rain combined to tame the blazes, but not before thousands of acres were burned along with 32 homes at last report. 


One of the burned homes belonged to Camp Allen staffer, Jennifer Foster. She worked all night at Camp Allen as her home was destroyed, leaving at 5:30 a.m. to sleep at her mother's home. 


Two other staffers, Randy Tomczak and Shaun Holmes, are volunteer firefighters and have been fighting the blaze for the past two days. The current estimate according local station KBTX is that the fire is 50 percent contained thanks to the efforts of the firefighters and a healthy dose of rain.


"It was pretty tough as it came close," said Camp Allen president, George Dehan. "Our summer campers remain completely unaffected by the fire and are having a joyous week of camp. However, the situation is being closely monitored, and the Navasota Police Department will contact Camp Allen immediately if the fire poses a possible threat to the camp’s property."


In the unlikely event that an evacuation is necessary all campers and staff will be quickly transported to St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Hempstead, and the emergency contact for each camper will be notified.


"The situation looks better today," Dehan said. "But we ask that you pray for rain and for protection of our firefighters."



Fires in Grimes County, Texas have forced the evacuation of more than 2,000 homes in addition to burning 4,000 acres of land and destroying at least 26 homes according to the Houston Chronicle. The Diocese of Texas' Camp Allen is located about nine miles south of the where the current fires rage. 


Summer Camp is in session and many parents have called to check on the situation.


“There is no need to evacuate campers,” said Camp Allen President George Dehan. “We have arranged for transportation to take them to the Episcopal church in Hempstead, if we should have to move the campers,”


Several Camp Allen employees had to evacuate their homes near Stonham and Plantersville and Dehan asked that everyone keep the firefighters and the families affected in their prayers. 


A couple of Camp Allen staffers are also volunteer firefighters, and they are now spending their days battling the blaze.


"Randy from our staff was in this morning and said that the fire is now 30 percent contained," Dehan said. "We took the firefighters ice chests full of ice because they didn't have anything cool to drink." 


Firefighting helicopters are retrieving water from Camp Allen's big lake, and federal officials are now involved in the firefighting efforts. 


"From the roof of our building or another high point, you can see the smoke in the distance," Dehan said. "Hopefully the reduction of wind and the possibility of rain will help us greatly. We will continue to be vigilant and keep you informed."


Wildfire danger is currently extraordinarily high as much of Texas suffers from extreme drought. More fires are currently burning in other parts of the state.