Summer camp building in Frederick Co. engulfed in flames

A two-alarm fire sends smoke billowing over Camp Airy in Thurmont, Maryland. (Courtesy Frederick Co. Firefighter Career Association/Paramedic Kerrie Malta.)

Frederick County firefighters are battling flames that engulfed Camp Airy, a sleepaway camp in Thurmont, Maryland, Wednesday morning.

Sarah Campbell, a spokesperson for the county, said that firefighters reached the camp after they got reports of a fire just after 7:30 a.m.

“There are approximately 100 firefighters from (Maryland) and (Pennsylvania) on scene trying to extinguish” the fire, Campbell told WTOP shortly before 10 a.m. “The building was empty at the time of the fire.”

Without fire hydrants near the camp, firefighters drew water from a large pond and two pools to battle the flames, Deputy Chief Kenny Poole said at a news conference.

Campbell said there have been no reported injuries. No residents or campers were in the area of the fire, and everyone attending the camp is OK.

The large fire, visible on weather radar, stemmed from the camp’s dining hall, known as the “White House.”

Camp Airy and Louise is a “brother-sister Jewish overnight” camp that hosts several events.

The camp said in a Facebook post that it’s too early to tell the extent of the damage.

“As you might imagine, the White House is not only where we serve our meals, but also a hub of activity at camp,” the statement read. “We are currently relocating many of these activities and want to assure you that campers will be fed on time with the quality meals that you expect. What is important to know is that no one has been hurt and camp will move forward with the full slate of activities.”

Breakfast prep had begun when the smoke was noticed and people got out quickly, Marty Rochlin, director of the camp said at a news conference. They are planning to carry on camp as regularly as possible, he said.

“It’s a building most of us grew up in, had all our meals in as campers and as staff,” Rochlin said. “Thankfully, it’s just a building. Camp can continue because camp is the people.”

The camp said it will provide more updates as it has news to share.

A former counselor, who declined to identify himself, told WTOP 400 to 600 kids come to the camp in a typical summer and called the dining hall “iconic.”

“The memorabilia on the walls in there is amazing,” he said. “It spans the array of probably close to 80 years, including pictures of old campers and counselors.”

“And it’s extremely meaningful, especially in the Jewish community.”

At a news conference held around 1 p.m., Campbell said the “investigation is ongoing and no further info regarding origin or cause or damage estimate can be provided at this time.”

WTOP’s Will Vitka and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

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