When you have a major university in your backyard, as we do in Harnett County, it is easy to take that institution for granted. At times, it is only the potential for tragedy that reminds us of how important something is. Such was the case last week when fire and smoke threatened the campus of Campbell University in Buies Creek.
There are few stories of universities as successful as that of Campbell University. What long-term residents, like myself, remember as Campbell College and as Buies Creek Academy, it is now a major university.
It’s been my privilege to chronicle the school’s expansion and progress in the last 20 years. Just off the top of my head, I remember stories on new additions such as the convocation center, medical school, pharmacy building and now the construction of a new student union center.
In almost all regards, this county is “Campbell proud” and for good reason.
That is why when heavy smoke rose to the air in the area of Campbell last week, people cringed. As a Campbell executive pointed out last week, it was clear from the smoke that it was coming from the direction of Buies Creek.
The only question was what building was on fire and how bad was the damage? Others asked if any of their Campbell friends were injured. The fact is, if you live in Harnett County, there is a good chance you have friends at Campbell. Many of us have a personal relationship with people at the school.
Quickly, the news spread that the latest sign of the school’s growth, the student union building, that was on fire. Because it is under construction, there were minimal people inside the facility. The extent of the physical damage remains unclear, but for the most part, the construction project is still just that, a construction project.
Those of us who know Campbell know the school will carry out its plans. Friends who have supported the school’s efforts will continue to do so. That will still be one of the premier sites of its kind in the country when completed. It takes more than a fire to stop the momentum of a Camel.
The reaction of the community to last week’s fire shows how important Campbell University is to Harnett County and the entire region. We are all glad the damage wasn’t worse than it was. We are even more happy that there were no major injuries to construction crew members, or Campbell students or staff.
The incident was simply a speed bump on the road of Campbell successes.
Tom Woerner is a reporter with The Daily Record. Reach him at 910-230-2038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.