Update, 3:20pm: VIGIL PLANNED FOR 8PM TONIGHT
The Friends of Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp are organizing a memorial gathering in honor of the lost camp tonight, Monday, at 8pm at Berkeley’s Civic Center Park, next to the Berkeley Parks and Recreation Center. “Bring candles, wear your BTC shirts, and be prepared to sing as we celebrate this amazing camp which has brought happiness to countless families since 1922,” they write.
Meanwhile, the city of Berkeley has not yet been able to access the site of the fire to evaluate the damage. The site is still described as an active fire, said City of Berkeley spokesperson Matthai Chakko, who confirmed the camp did have insurance.
Update, Aug. 26, 7:59 a.m.: VIDEO FOOTAGE SHOWS CAMP DEVASTATION/ PHOTO MEMORIAL PAGE SET UP BY FORMER STAFFER
Footage from ABC7News shows that the Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp was destroyed by the Rim Fire, which swept through the area Sunday, Aug. 25:
Reporter John Austin described the camp as being “obliterated” with “virtually every building and cabin gone.” Cal Fire Capt. Martin Gill told ABC7 News that a crown fire ran into the camp at 2-3 p.m. Sunday. As the top of the area’s tall trees burned, embers fell onto the site.
Ariel Nava, a former Berkeley Tuolumne Camp staff member and camper, has started a Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp Photo Memorial page on Facebook for campers and staff to share photographic memories/history of BTC. The page already as more than 430 followers.
Like many Berkeleyans who share fond memories of their time at the camp, Nava said he was heartbroken about its destruction. He said he had been going to BTC since he was a child, worked on staff for four summers while he was in high school, and met his wife while working there. “I have been taking my daughters to BTC since they were 2 and 5 months old. I am deeply saddened by the loss of such an amazing place that has given so many people so much joy over the past 92 years.”
Original story, Aug. 25: The Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp burned down today, Sunday, Aug. 25, according to the East Bay Express which spoke to John Miller, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service. The news was on the Friends of the Berkeley Tuolumne Camp Facebook page, several of whose members said they had spoken to the Forest Service.
It is not clear whether the camp was entirely destroyed, or whether some structures might remain. Calls by Berkeleyside to the Forest Service had not been returned at press time. A spokesperson for the city of Berkeley, which runs the 91-year-old camp, was not able to confirm the news Sunday evening.
Writing on the Seven Days blog in the Express, Robert Gammon said: “Very bad news tonight for the thousands of East Bay families who are fans of Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp. It burned down today, according to John Miller, spokesman for the US Forest Service. Owned and operated by the City of Berkeley, the beautiful and popular camp along the Tuolumne River near Yosemite National Park has been around since 1922. But today, it was the victim of the massive Rim Fire, which is still burning out of control in the Sierra.”
The Rim Fire, now in its eighth day, has now extended to cover 133,980 acres. A total of 2,846 fire crews are fighting the blaze, which is only 7% contained.
In its latest update on its website, posted today, the Forest Service reported that “increased activity developed on the eastern edge of the fire with very active burning inclusive of rapid rates of spread, torching and spotting.” The site of the Berkeley camp is on the east of the previous Rim Fire perimeter.
Berkeleyside will provide more details when we have them.
Berkeley Tuolumne Family Camp appears safe for now (08.24.13)
Berkeley’s Tuolumne Family camp closed due to wildfires (08.22.13)
Wildfires put Tuolumne Family Camp on evacuation alert (08.20.13)