Investigators believe the fire that damaged the Conway Community Center in St. Paul over the weekend was intentionally set.
Fire crews responded to the fire at 3:30 a.m. and quickly extinguished it, according to the St. Paul Fire Department. Nobody was injured. An investigation ensued in conjunction with St. Paul Police.
The city-owned center at 2090 Conway St., on the city's East Side, is managed by nonprofit The Sanneh Foundation (TSF).
TSF spokesman Tod Herskovitz said the building will not be usable for two to four weeks due to fire and smoke damage. He said insurance companies are still determining the extent of the damage.
In the meantime, St. Paul parks, schools, and libraries have offered their help in hopes of salvaging alternative locations for youth programming. Eastview Recreation Center will assist in hosting TSF's Summer Splash, a summer camp program for neighborhood kids, and buses will be used to get kids to other locations.
"We're resolved to put on programming without interruption. It's a challenge, and we're adapting. But it's obvious that our community can be incredibly resilient and also as you see incredibly supportive," Herskovitz said. "It's our responsibility to provide the programs that youth and families rely on us for."
TSF CEO Tony Sanneh wrote on Facebook that he was first informed of the fire by phone call at 4 a.m. Sunday.
"We now are asking people to come together as we figure out how to navigate without diminishing services to our kids," Sanneh wrote.
Sanneh also posted a donation link for the fire recovery fund. According to the fund page, over $20,000 has already been raised with 79 donors.
The Southeast Community Organization has dedicated the final performance of their Highwood Performance Series, with Titambe West African Dance Ensemble and physical theater artist Benjamin Domask-Rue, to TSF. People can make donations to the organization at the free performance this Friday at 6:30 p.m. outside Highwood Hills Elementary School, 2192 Londin Lane.