So Cal Fires Devastate Cal-Pac Conference's Colby Ranch

September 29, 2009

By Paul Cogger
Director of Camping and Facility Management
California-Pacific Annual Conference

I have returned from a site visit to Colby Ranch on Thursday, September 24 and want to share this update. It is impossible to describe the journey through the mountains to the campsite. One sees only mile after mile of denuded hillsides and burned plants.
Approximately three miles from the camp you will see the three vista point cabins standing high and untouched above the charred forest around the point. The bridge into the camp sustained some damage but has been inspected and declared safe. The core camp was untouched and you cannot help but be filled with wonder to stand under lush green trees catching glimpses of the denuded forest that lies just beyond the campsite.
The burn line from the wildfire advanced on Colby Ranch from the north and east. The wildfire burned three mobile units used for staff housing and pretty much the entire eastern slope above the camp. It continued in a southerly direction, burning the pool house, pool equipment building, pool decking, and pool bathrooms. It then proceeded above the pool area and took Hillside House, a recently remodeled staff house. The wildfire advanced to the back door of the site director's home, unexplainably leaving it untouched, and proceeded farther south. Continuing in a southerly direction the wildfire took a communal restroom, Orchard Hall, Redwood Cabin, and the water pump house. Heat from the wildfire did some damage to the main water storage tank.
In all, the Station Wildfire took nine structures and did considerable damage to the pool, water tank, and the environment connecting these buildings. We have been working with our insurance adjusters and clean-up of the camp [was to] begin on Friday, September 25. Many individuals and churches have contacted us regarding their interest in helping. When conditions are safe, we look forward to working with the many volunteers. We expect it will be several weeks before it will be safe for volunteers to work inside the camp. Of special interest at this time: a volunteer with knowledge of pool construction and equipment.
Our insurance coverage does not include building content coverage, so we already know there will be a financial gap between our insurance coverage and full restoration of the camp. Financial gifts to assist in covering this gap may be made payable to Cal-Pac Camps, with the notation "Colby Ranch Phoenix Project" on the memo line. Financial gifts should be mailed to: Colby Ranch Phoenix Project, P.O. Box 6006, Pasadena, CA 91101-6006. All gifts are tax deductible.
As we plan the resurrection of Colby Ranch there will be many roles for volunteers. A Constant Contact email distribution list is being constructed for individuals, churches, and organizations wishing to receive current updates regarding planning, needs, and volunteer opportunities. To be placed on the update list leave your contact information with Susan Bonaparte, camp secretary, at
[Editor's Note: Paste into your browser to view a slideshow by SGVN staff of the aftermath of the fire at Camp Colby.]