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UPDATE: Camden Park Reopens after Fire Destroys Iconic Ride

By: Bill Murray, Olivia Fecteau Email
By: Bill Murray, Olivia Fecteau Email
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UPDATE 7/23/13 @ 6:15 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Camden Park reopened Tuesday to long lines of faithful fans.

"It's tradition," said Bill Likens, who brought in a church group of about three dozen from Dunlow, W.Va. "When I was young, I'm 38, but 25 to 30 years ago we came every year through the church -- the same chapel, actually."

The fire started early Sunday morning and shut down the park all day Sunday as crews accessed and cleaned up the damage after a fire destroyed the iconic bumper cars.

"It was always one of our most popular rides," said Ed Stephens, who manages the park. "They were always one of the first ones with a line in the morning and the last one to close at night."

Management believes a power surge may have started the fire. The surrounding area lost power during severe weather Saturday night. When it came back on, it's believed that's when the fire started.

The park is back open on regular summer hours.

Alice McClanahan brought a group of children to the park after a roughly two-hour bus ride. Last year, the trip had to be canceled because of the derecho. So, after hearing about the fire this year, she was a little anxious.

"I thought, 'Oh, no, we have to cancel again,' " McClanahan said. "We're just looking for a good time."

Camden Park is open from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.



UPDATE 7/21/13 @ 6:30 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – People hoping to enjoy the rides at Camden Park were disappointed Sunday to find the amusement park closed after a ride caught fire early Sunday morning.

Shawn Wellman, the park’s ride supervisor, said the Dodg’em Cars ride caught fire about 2:30 a.m. Sunday.

“A security guard was walking through the park – we have 24-hour security,” Wellman said. “He heard a popping sound, and then when he came up around by the Dodg'em Cars, he [saw] flames.”

The ride was up in flames by the time firefighters from Ceredo Volunteer Fire Department got to the park. Wellman said the firefighters put the fire out quickly and no other rides were damaged, although the men’s restroom and maintenance shop on either side of the ride had some minor damage.

Earl Hunter and his family drove from Beckley Sunday to spend the day at Camden Park for his daughter Evelyn’s 5th birthday. When they found out it was closed, the Hunters said they were disappointed.

“I hate it for them,” Hunter said, referring to his children, “but you never know when things will happen like that.”

Asked what he planned to do now, Hunter said he wasn’t sure.

“Maybe we can find a Skateland or something to go to, if they're open today,” Hunter said. “It's Sunday. It fell on a bad day. Too bad it wasn't yesterday.”

Wellman said while they are not certain what caused the fire, they believe it was an electrical issue.

“A power surge or a short-circuit or something,” Wellman said. “Luckily, most of the rides are metal, so that's not a bigger thing, but some of the older rides like the Dodg'em Cars has a wooden roof.”

The park, which is already closed most Monday's through the summer, will use the day to clean up the remains of the ride and rope off the area so no one will get hurt. Wellman said the park will likely re-open Tuesday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



ORIGINAL STORY 7/21/13 @ 10:20 a.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A ride at Camden Park Amusement Park was destroyed after it caught fire early Sunday morning.

Dispatchers in Wayne County say the call came in a little before 3 a.m. Sunday. According to Shawn Wellman, a supervisor at Camden Park, the fire was caused by a power surge during Saturday night's storm that led to an electrical shortage on the Dodge ‘Em Cars ride. That ride was destroyed. Wellman said there was minor damage to the bathrooms next to it, but all other rides are fine.

Ceredo Volunteer Fire Department was called in to fight the fire.

The park says it plans to clean Sunday and Monday and open back up on Tuesday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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