Fire in the Dininghall

Posted on: February 9th, 2011 by Silver Lake Mennonite Camp

In May of 1968, fire destroyed the original Silver Lake dininghall and this past Monday (February 7), 47 years later, a fire has caused significant damage to the same building.

At this point it looks like the cause of the fire was related to the embers from the large stone fireplace. Essentially, the embers found their way under the dining hall, aided by blustering winds, and smouldered underneath the floor. As you can see from the attached photos there is extensive damage to the dininghall – the most obviously is the floor which was removed to allow firefighters access. We have met on-site with various professionals and at this point we know the dininghall will require new insulation, new doors, some new windows, new drywall, new flooring and perhaps a new ceiling.  Of greater concern is the condition of structural beams and posts under the floor, and we will soon meet with a structural engineer to assess that damage.

The neighbouring vestibule and kitchen has significant smoke damage but the restoration team is confident that a thorough cleaning and new paint should remedy any problems.

Thankfully, we have adequate insurance which will hopefully cover the majority of the replacement costs. This also presents an opportunity to improve the current facility (insulation with higher R value etc).

From a timing perspective, we are fortunate. We should have enough time to restore the dining hall prior to summer.  We do rely on off-season rentals (church groups, schools, businesses and families) to provide much needed revenue throughout the year, however we also have business interruption insurance.

As you have read above, we have much to be grateful for and there is more;

  • Nobody was injured
  • The damage was contained to one building – the fire inspector was amazed that it didn’t spread
  • We have an incredibly supportive community of campers, parents, volunteers and churches

We give thanks to God for these blessings.

Updated: May 5, 2011

After numerous consulations, with supporters and with various professionals, the restoration and enhancement project is well underway.

Over the past 3 months, we have been continually amazed by the unsolicited response, in prayer, helping hands and financial contributions from individuals and churches alike – THANK YOU. During our disurnment and consultation process, we had representation and input from across Ontario including Leamington, Niagara, Toronto, KW and surrounding area and we have overwhelming support for this project. After these consultations and meetings with our insurance company it was decided that the dining hall, vestibule and kitchen will receive extensive restoration work and various enhancements including energy efficiency upgrades with new windows, insulation and heating system. The total costs associated with the dining hall restoration and enhancement project is currently estimated at $700,000 (approximately $600,000 will be covered through insurance). We are working hard to ensure we have a functioning (not complete, but functioning) dining hall for July 1st.  An addition to the back of the dining hall is planned for the fall which will see washrooms, volunteer and retreat space added under one roof.  Though this fire does present some very real challenges, there are an equal number of opportunities before us and we prayer that as an organization we have the wisdom to allow the spirit to guide us as we move forward.  Photos showing the construction will be added weekly to the album below – be sure to check back regularly!

Let’s not forget that 2011 is a year of celebration for Silver Lake.  This fire is one of many challenges faced over the past 50 years and like many of the other challenges, it will make a great campfire story for years to come!