On Saturday, April 8, 2017, Camp Rangers were alerted to a brush fire in the dense forest on the far side of the lake at Mah-Kah-Wee Program Center. Both the neighboring HOA and our Rangers contacted 911. Within hours, the fire grew into a widespread wildfire, consuming over 150 acres of the property.
[DEVELOPING. Updated 4/26/17 at 2:00 PM] More than 100 volunteers were participating in Girl Scouts of Citrus’ Volunteer Retreat Weekend at the council’s largest camp property, Mah-Kah-Wee. Early Saturday afternoon, neighbors and Rangers noticed smoke and a brush fire on the far west side of Horseshoe Lake.
Staff and volunteers responded quickly, totally evacuating the property within 15 minutes. First-responders, including Seminole County Fire Department and Florida Fire Services, also urged evacuation of nearby residential areas.
Due to high winds and dry conditions, the fire spread quickly across the west side of camp. The Turkey Run campsite was lost, while Shady Oaks and Eagles Roost have, so far, been spared extensive loss thanks to the prevention efforts of fire fighters. It is important to remember that the full scope of damage is unknown at this time.
We are extremely grateful to everyone who stepped up to offer assistance, including the East Seminole County VFW Post for providing an evacuation location for staff and volunteers, as well as the nearby Publix who offered food and supplies.
Anyone who would like to make a donation toward recovery efforts should visit our website.
We are continuing to assess the situation as areas continue to smolder and burn. Once more information is confirmed, troops and families will be updated about scheduled camp outings. Regular updates, as they are confirmed, will be posted on this page.
[UPDATED 4/11/2017 at 9:30 AM] At this time, the fire is still active at Mah-Kah-Wee, and parts of the property have experienced flare-ups that are common with wildfires. We believe it is contained, but while fires are still active, we cannot begin a full assessment of the damage.
Summer Camp: We can confirm that summer camp will take place as planned, with suitable accommodations offered to campers to compensate for the damaged cabins. We are working with donors and community partners to find mobile accommodations.
Mah-Kah-Wee Events: Individual events, such as council-led events and camporees, are being assessed on an individual basis based on the timing of the event. Registrants for upcoming events will receive communication if their event is cancelled or postponed.
Cause: At this time, local authorities can confirm that no foul play contributed to the cause of the fire, and they speculate that the fire began as a result of natural causes.
How can I help: There are many ways to get involved right now, but unfortunately, until authorities are confident that the fire is extinguished, we cannot begin any large-scale efforts. Here’s how to help right now:
- To make a financial donation, please visit our website.
- To send cards or small gifts (such as your favorite memories at camp or thank you cards written to first responders and other helping organizations), please mail them to:
341 N Mills Ave
Orlando, FL 32803
- To assist with future volunteer cleanup initiatives, please complete this form. This group will be contacted first with additional information when it is available.
- To assist with volunteer-led appreciation efforts for first responders, please see this Facebook event.
- To lead an independent fundraising effort on our behalf, such as selling merchandise or donating a percentage of business profit, please contact Toni Castillo, Chief Relationship Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-228-1601 before beginning formal campaigns.
[UPDATED 4/12/2017 at 10:00 AM] At this time, we believe the wildfire is 100% contained, but is still active. That means there are still hot spots throughout the acres that were impacted by the wildfire, preventing authorities from beginning a full assessment of the damage.
Mah-Kah-Wee Events: We have started to contact the participants of upcoming events scheduled to take place at Mah-Kah-Wee on an individual basis to discuss their options. We are committed to ensuring that all events can take place, so we are working with the local network of camp properties to find alternative solutions for our members. Please stay tuned to your email if yourself or your troop has upcoming events.
RELATED NEWS COVERAGE
Saturday, April 8 at 7:25 PM. Video. Orlando Sentinel.
Mandatory evacuations wildfire near Chuluota doubles in size; several buildings destroyed
Saturday, April 8 at 10:26 PM. Video. WESH2
Brush fire sparks in Chuluota, Girl Scout camp evacuated, structures destroyed
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Sunday, April 9. Video. Storyful.
Central Florida Brushfire Forces Evacuations.
Monday, April 10 at 3:40 PM. Video. Orlando Sentinel
Firefighters brace for Central Florida surge in wildfires
Monday, April 10 at 4:23 PM. Video. WFTV9
Girl Scout camp structures destroyed by Seminole County brush fire will be rebuilt, group says
Monday, April 11 at 10:18 AM. NEWS6
Gov. Scott declares state of emergency after Florida wildfire increases