Fire destroys activities center at Sunrise campus

by Todd Deaton/Western Recorder, posted Monday, January 22, 2018 (7 months ago)

Firefighters battle a blaze that destroyed Sunrise Children's Services activity center at its Danville, Ky., campus Jan. 19.
Robin Hart/The Advocate-Messenger
DANVILLE, Ky. (BP) -- Flames were shooting through the roof of the Sunrise Children's Services activity center at its Danville, Ky., campus when local firefighters arrived on Friday afternoon (Jan. 19).

"God was watching out for us," said Dale Suttles, president of Sunrise Children's Services. "We were blessed that no one was in the activity center at the time."

Boyle County emergency manager Mike Wilder told WKYT-TV in Lexington that fire crews battled for over an hour to keep the fire from reaching residential cabins on the psychiatric residential treatment facility.

The fire was spotted by a foster care specialist while taking a walk with one of the residents about lunchtime. No one was in the activities center at the time. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

"Our immediate and utmost priority was to ensure the safety and protection of the 27 male children and youth who live [at the campus]," said Melissa Bailey, associate director of communications for Sunrise, which is affiliated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention and has 16 locations across the state.

"I'm happy to report that we successfully transported all of the boys to a local church, which has graciously stepped in to help us feed and care for them at this time," Bailey said.

The children, many of whom suffer from extreme psychological disorders due to trauma, likely will not be able to return to the campus for several days until it has been determined that it is safe to do so. However, loss of the multi-purpose facility, which also houses a small library, kitchen and classroom space, will significantly impact the treatment facility's ministry.

Randy Reese, director of education at First Baptist Church in Danville, where the residents were relocated during the fire, told WKYT-TV that the children will feel its loss.

"I think it's going to be tough mostly for the kids. I think that's something, from talking with the workers here, that the kids utilized, enjoyed, was a very important part of their daily routines so I think that's going to be a troublesome thing for the children that are there," Reese said. "But I think this community will pull together, and we'll find some places where they can go and participate in athletics and the activities they utilized that facility for."

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has been notified. "We are also contacting the family members of these young men to notify them that the boys are safe and out of harm's way," Bailey said.

"Please keep Sunrise in your thoughts and prayers as we assess and determine the damages from this fire," she said, adding that donations and gift cards from those wishing to help will be greatly appreciated.

Todd Deaton is editor of the Western Recorder (westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
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