As the glowing embers from the Balls Creek Campground fire die out, owners of nearly 50 tents either destroyed or damaged by the blaze are planning to rebuild.
For some, Sunday night’s fire feels like deja vu. In 2007, there were two fires at the campground within seven months, according to previous Hickory Daily Record articles.
Three tents were damaged in February 2007, and the second fire in September 2007 destroyed eight tents and damaged four others.
Since 1853, the campground has served as a space for large religious and spiritual gatherings. For two weeks every August, a revival held on the property draws in thousands.
Many of the campground’s 295 tents, or wooden, cabin-like structures, have been owned by the same families for decades.
While Sunday’s fire and the 2007 fires destroyed pieces of Catawba County history, the first Balls Creek Campground fire in 1956 devastated 150 structures.
The scene at Balls Creek on May 8, 1956, was similar to Monday. Owners of the structures gathered outside the grounds to see if their tent survived, with plans to rebuild in time for the August camp meeting, according to a previous HDR article.
In 1956, the structures were deemed too risky for insurance companies to cover.
“Insurance companies would not cover the buildings at Balls Creek because of the lack of water with which to fight fires and because the old buildings have been considered virtually a firetrap for a long time,” HDR reporter Helen Ross wrote.
The 1956 article noted there had only been three instances on record of the revival being canceled. Two of those times were during polio epidemics.