McKINNEY — Volunteers and staff had shovels and pickaxes in hand Saturday as they helped start the rebuilding of a ranch facility that went up in flames.
The main facility of Storybook Ranch in McKinney burned Thursday night. Nobody was hurt in the fire, but the building is a total loss, according to fire officials.
The facility served as a location for many camps, some of which served underprivileged youth.
“We got phone call after phone call, e-mail after e-mail... it's really amazing,” said program director John Schaar.
That's why Army Maj. Andrew White was at the ranch with his wife on Saturday; once he heard about the fire, there was no hesitation to come and offer help.
“When the time is right, we would like to see what we could do and help restore this incredible facility,” White said.
White is with American Veterans Restoration and Roofing in McKinney, a company which offers jobs to former members of the military.
“These people are our family. They are not just our friends... they are family,” said White's wife, Katie.
Storybook Ranch holds special significance for the Whites, because this is where they tied the knot two years ago. They were also just there for a New Year's party.
Now, what's left of the facility is burned and barely standing, held up by charred wood.
Maj. White took home a horseshoe that sat on the wall inside the charred building.
“It's one of the horseshoes that stood over here, and they gave it to us,” White said.
Demolition of the Storybook Ranch building is expected to start in the next few days. After that, the plan is to build a larger facility.
“We're going to rise out of the ashes like the Phoenix... I'm sure we'll do that,” Schaar said.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.