Saving a sacred tradition: Fire threatens historic campground
RIDGEVILLE — Renny Hill has been coming to the annual revival services at the Cypress Methodist Campground every October since he was a boy.
He’s part of a long tradition. Families have been holding camp meetings here since the 1700s. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places.
About 50 small huts — they call them tents — are arranged in a circle around a central meeting place. Hill, 70, built his sacred space in 1978, almost 30 years ago.
The whole tradition came under threat Tuesday night. A spark got up in the attic of Hill’s tent, and a fire broke out. A suspicious blaze took down five tents in 2008. A quick response from several fire departments prevented what could have been a very bad scene. The call for help went out at 6:45 p.m., and units were at the campground within 10 minutes, Dorchester County Rural Fire Department Chief Tres Atkinson said. The St. George, Ridgeville Rural and Lebanon fire departments also responded. “It had a very good potential to spread,” Hill said.
They were able to contain the fire to the attic.
Hill was feeling extra thankful after the alarm. “I think we’ll be all right,” he said. “I just want to thank all the firemen who came out here tonight.”
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.