Poconos Coal

World peace center hits setback after Fernwood Resort fire

MIDDLE SMITHFIELD TWP., Pa. - Flames shot out from the roof of the former Fernwood Resort in Middle Smithfield Township.

"Our first engine arrived within 10 minutes, found a working fire, a fire through the roof spreading throughout the building," said Alex Dipaolo.

Bushkill Fire Company Chief Alex Dipaolo says the call came in around 9 p.m. Sunday night. It took 100 firefighters from 15 different companies about two hours to contain the fire.

The building collapsed, but Dipaolo says no one was inside at the time and there were no injuries.

The old resort has sat empty since 2014 but there were big plans in the works.

"Going to build a meditation center for Buddhist disciples from all over the world to come here for meditation," said Jack Wang.

Wang is the vice president of the Buddhist group that purchased the roughly 30-acre property back in December.

He says his group planned on renovating the building and turning it into a world peace center.

"Buddha statues inside, audio visual, you know, very nice things," he said.

Wang -- seeing the damage for the first time Monday morning -- says he's shocked and confused.

"I have a lot of questions, you know I'm feeling very bad," he said.

But he says the plan is still in place -- despite the setback -- and he hopes the community will come together and help build the center.

"It's going to be delayed, obviously because of this but we're not going to quit, we're going to stay here and make it happen," said Wang.

The State Police Fire Marshal is handing the investigation. There's no word yet on the cause of the fire or if it appears suspicious. 

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