Camp cancels summer sessions due to Powerhouse fire

In the wake of the fire, the camp appreciates support as it rebounds from the impact of the fire.  Donations can be made to The Painted Turtle Fire Recovery Fund at  (Contributed photos)

In the wake of the fire, the camp appreciates support as it rebounds from the impact of the fire. Donations can be made to The Painted Turtle Fire Recovery Fund at (Contributed photos)

Painted Turtle powerhouse fire damage 3LAKE HUGHES – The Painted Turtle, one of Paul Newman’s medical specialty camps for children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses, has been forced to cancel all summer camp sessions due to extensive damage by the Powerhouse fire.

There was a tremendous amount of smoke damage and destruction of the vegetation and land that has created air quality concerns and that is going to require extensive cleanup, according to camp Executive Director Blake Maher.  For the safety of the campers, the camp had to make the very difficult decision to cancel its summer sessions to allow the recovery process to take place, Blake stated.

Painted Turtle powerhouse fire damage 2The Painted Turtle is a place where children ages 6 – 17 with chronic or life threatening illnesses can go to have fun, make friends, and still get the medical attention they need while enjoying just being a kid.

Fifty staff members were on site for summer training when the Powerhouse fire moved rapidly toward the camp and through the Lake Hughes community on June 1. The staff members were evacuated to a high school in Lancaster, camp officials said.

When the smoke cleared, all the major buildings were left intact.

Painted Turtle powerhouse fire damage 4However, there was damage to some outlying buildings, 90 percent of the property’s vegetation, and significant smoke damage from the fire.

During the next three months, the camp will be undergoing an extensive process of landscape cleanup and hydro-seeding, cleaning all buildings and ventilations systems, and going through an ozone cleaning process of every building to ensure that The Painted Turtle facility meets the high level of safety that is the trademark of its programs.

In addition, there will be some repairs and rebuilding of some buildings, sheds, fences and lamp posts.

Painted Turtle powerhouse fire damage 5The Painted Turtle was scheduled to begin its summer camp season on June 14. During the summers, the camp usually hosts eight week-long sessions to which it welcomes 800 children with serious illnesses.

Each session serves children with a different medical condition.  The camp has been forced to cancel the entire summer schedule, which included the following sessions:

  • Skeletal Dysplasia and Mucopolysaccharidosis:  June 14-19
  • Kidney Disease and Transplant:  June 23-28
  • Rheumatic Diseases:  July 2-7
  • Special Diagnoses:  July 11-15
  • Crohn’s and Colitis:  July 20-25
  • Hemophilia/vWD and Thalassemia:  July 29-August 3
  • Liver Disease and Transplant, Primary Immunodeficiency Disease, and Total Parenteral Nutrition:  August 7-11
  • Sibling:  August 15-19

“While we had no choice but to make this very difficult decision, we are totally committed to returning with more hope, more fun, and more laughter than ever before,” said Maher.  “As the camp returns, we look forward to celebrating its 10-year anniversary in a way that leaves no doubt that The Painted Turtle is back, bigger and better. The Painted Turtle is extremely thankful to the firefighters and neighbors who helped to protect the camp and preserve a place that brings great joy and hope to thousands of children.  We would also like to thank all of those who have communicated their support and concern.”

The Painted Turtle does not have a billing department, as no one pays to attend the camp.  In the wake of the fire, the camp appreciates support as it rebounds from the impact of the fire.  Donations can be made to The Painted Turtle Fire Recovery Fund at

(Information via press release from The Painted Turtle Camp.)

  8 comments for “Camp cancels summer sessions due to Powerhouse fire

  1. J. Ripper
    June 7, 2013 at 5:35 am

    Don’t the Sheriff Boosters have a fireworks stand? There could be a County Fire Boosters group that could also have one.

    Do you know any firefighters personally? (I don’t really.) I would bet that despite the fact that they all end up working the 4th as it’s saturation schedule, that most of them and their families use at least the SnS fireworks themselves.

    I see nothing wrong with either of these things.

  2. J. Ripper
    June 7, 2013 at 5:32 am

    My kids suffer from the last one, “Sibling” disease. :-/

  3. mick
    June 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Fireworks in the desert are idiotic. There are lots of better, safer ways to do fundraising. I feel horrible for the Painted Turtle kids…some of these sweet little ones won’t be around next year.

  4. Common Horse Sense
    June 6, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Magnificent idea, John Howard, especially since safe and sane fireworks started the Powerhouse fire and all the other big ones like the Mill fire and the Station fire. Uh…wutt??? Safe and sane fireworks didn’t start those fires? Arson? Uh…well, you’re still onto something magnificent here. It looks like smoking, lightning and campfires are leading causes of fires. They’re light years ahead of safe and sane fireworks. So why not set up cigarette booths instead of fireworks booths in Palmdale, and maybe have a bunch set up at the fireworks show at the fairgrounds and donate the money? Magnificent! Then you can have a Benjamin Franklin Kite Flying contest on the BLVD during the next lightning storm and take bets on which contestant get electrocuted first and donate the money. Magnificent! Or you can have an Antelope Valley Burning Man Event where you create a wooden effigy of the person you like least of all and have all your friends shoot lighted arrows, for a fee, at the structure until it burns to a crisp. Brilliant! I like the way you think, John Howard. I like the way you think.

  5. John Howard
    June 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Maybe Palmdale can offer The Painted Turtle a permit to sell fireworks and then they can put their fireworks stand at the AV Mall. The Irony knows no bounds.

    Buy fireworks this year and say Thank You for nothing to the 2100 hard working fire fighters who risked their lives to save all the houses and The Painted Turtle.

    • sikntired
      June 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      Are you trying to say that the Powerhouse fire was caused by safe and sane fireworks?

      • John Howard
        June 7, 2013 at 8:48 am

        No, their are 26 letters and 104+ keys on my keyboard. If I was trying to say something, I would just say it. The cause of the fire has not been determined at this time..

        • sikntired
          June 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

          Thanks,that’s the answer I was looking for.By the way, congratulations on having a great keyboard.

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