Fire at church facility burns Boy Scouts’ camping gear


Arson investigators are still working to determine what sparked the fire at Gevers Hall on St. Mary Magdalen’s campus Friday.

SAN ANTONIO — A San Antonio Boy Scouts troop must replace camping gear torched in a fire Friday morning. 

Arson investigators are still trying to determine what sparked the flames inside Gevers Hall at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church.

Deacon Gerardo Mechler figures someone seeking warmth broke into the building’s garage Thursday night. A charred gas lamp on the facility’s floor appeared to be recently used, he said. 

“We’ve got a little time to replenish our supplies,” he said. “We know we need to replenish some tents almost right away.”

Mechler, also the scoutmaster for Troop 177, said he removed some equipment from the facility Thursday to prepare for a weekend camping trip. If he’d come just hours later, more gear might’ve burned. 

Sentimental items like trophies and awards survived the flames, and Mechler believes some of the damaged equipment can be restored. 

But the Troop needs new tents and other gear before the Summer, he said. The church may also raze the facility, which was further damaged in firefighters’ attempts to snuff out the flames. 

Mechler said he’ll use the disappointing event to teach his troop about adversity. 

“We remember the hard experiences, like a campout that was particularly cold or wet,” he said. “They’re going to remember this, and they’ll remember how we, as a troop, stepped forward and contributed our help to rebuild.” 

Scouts can also earn a merit badge for leadership through hardships like this fire, Mechler said. 

“We’ll go on,” he said. “We know that’s our purpose.”

Anyone with spare camping equipment can donate to Troop 177 by calling the St. Mary Magdalen church offices at 210-532-6309. 


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