LAWTON, OK (TNN) - Many people who use the Wichita Mountains Area Senior Citizens Center are wondering what will happen next after the facility was destroyed in a fire Saturday night.
First responders were notified on Saturday evening after a person driving on the interstate noticed the burning building.
“I came down immediately, and the fire had just erupted throughout the kitchen roof, and so it was over by then. I mean, it was too late to stop the fire by then,” said Tom Spears, public relations officer for the Wichita Mountains Area Senior Citizens Center.
According to Spears, the fire department said the gas was spewing out into the kitchen because the gas pipe had been severed. Spears said the senior center had just replaced the roof in September and the lighting in November.
“A lot of people have been affected by the fire that has taken the building,” said Spears.
On Fridays, the senior center hosted a live band for their weekly dances, and that will not stop this week. The organization plans on using the Medicine Park Event Center this Friday to keep their weekly dance going. The First Baptist Church in Medicine Park has also offered their facility for the organization to hold their weekly activities.
“We’re hoping that it will, that that is the place that will afford us the bridge into our next facility whether it’s here, rebuilt, or whether it’s somewhere else,” said Spears.
Spears said the center has 135 members in their system, but the building was used by many other people for events like family reunions and wedding receptions.
“We appreciate all the support we’ve gotten since it burned, and all the support we got before, you know, as we operated," said Spears. "Because we, as a senior citizen center, needed the help of everybody, and we’ve really had the help of the community all along to provide the services we provided.”
Spears said the community’s help is extremely important to the future of their organization.
“It is necessary for us to keep operating as an entity," said Spears. "It would be very easy at this time to just give up the ghost and say I’m sorry we can’t make it again. But with everybody doing that for us, our people know that we’re still working, still going to provide the services, and still that there are other services available.”
Spears said the board will be meeting this week to discuss temporary facilities that have been offered from others in the community.