Pulaski Community heartbroken after Randolph Park Pool fire

Published: May. 27, 2023 at 6:26 PM EDT
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PULASKI CO., Va. (WDBJ) - The Pulaski community is reeling from the loss of the Evelyn Alexander Water Park, also known as the Randolph Park Pool. The building caught fire Friday night and was destroyed.

Just three days before opening Monday for the summer, the Randolph Park pool house burned down - leaving an entire community devastated and heartbroken.

“Seeing it gone, it’s just like my entire life is, like, here,” said Emileigh Sheppard.

Like many people in Pulaski County, Sheppard and her family drove to the pool to see what was left.

“You see this and you’re like, woah,” added Sheppard. “My entire childhood, or so far of it, has been here every summer.”

Only memories and rubble remain of the building opened in 2000 to serve the community. Officials say it is a complete loss.

“Personally, there is a lot of emotion but thankfully no one was hurt,” said Assistant County Administrator Anthony Akers.

Akers says the call was made just before 4:30 Friday Afternoon. He explained some staff members were inside but made it out safely after calling 911. Fire officials say 6 of the 8 fire departments in the county were on scene.

“And they were all here ‘cause a lot of them had memories here as well,” added Akers. “You could feel those emotions going on while they were fighting the fire.”

Akers was the first park manager and remembers the growth. He says that on average, more than 500 people visited the pool every day.

“I’ve seen the amount of people who’ve spent their lives – young lives – through here, and adults,” explained Akers. “So, it’s very meaningful and it’s a vastly important facility to Pulaski County.”

County officials met for a debrief meeting Saturday morning to discuss how they will pick up the pieces.

“We will do all we can to fix it,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Laura Walters. “We’ll build back better and it’s because the community will all pull together to make this happen.”

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

Randolph Park remains open and available to the public.