Fire devastates facility for foster children in Arkansas Co.

DEWITT (KATV) - Fire devastates a group home for foster children in Arkansas County, Monday night.{} The blaze destroyed the recreation & dining hall of Dana's House, a facility serving about 20 children.

The fire is all the result of a storm that passed through DeWitt.{} A lightning bolt struck the Dana's House rec hall starting a fire in the attic of the building.{} Fire officials believe more than $500,000 in damage was done to the space.{} The boarding area of the home, just five feet from the rec hall was untouched and all children were unharmed.

Tuesday afternoon, water firefighters used to douse flames Monday night, continued to drip from the ceiling in the space where children used to have their meals and play time.{}

Staff and children were the ones who heard the lightning hit, Monday night.

"Then they smelled smoke," said Jennifer Poston, mentioning the kids said the lightning strike sounded like a bomb going off.{} "The roof and attic were actually on fire."

Poston, administrator for Dana's House, said the fire gutted the attic area of the building which just houses duct work for the building.{}

It was smoke and water, results of the fire, which damaged the other two floors of the facility.{} Now the building that once housed the home's eating facility, recreation area and thrift store is not structurally sound.

"That thrift store actually made about $15,000 a year for the children to be able to go on outings," said Poston, adding the thrift store was completely volunteer based, operating similar to a Goodwill store.

The community has already come to the aid of Dana's House.{} DeWitt's First Baptist Church, right next door to the home, provided a place for kids to stay Monday night after electricity was turned off to the boarding rooms.{} Since the kitchen was destroyed, the church also offered space for meal service.{} And thanks for community support, meals have been provided for the children for just about the next month.

But toys, electronics and furniture were all destroyed along with the building and the building is their biggest concern.

"Our biggest concern right now is that although we carry insurance, that, that will not be enough to rebuild the facility," said Poston.

If you'd like to help make a donation to Dana's House click on the link in associated links or send a check to:

Dana's House, Inc.

P.O. Box 138

DeWitt, Arkansas 72042