UPDATE 7:14 p.m. — THURMONT, Md. (DC News Now) — There is no word yet on what sparked a devastating fire that badly damaged a building at Camp Airy, an overnight camp for Jewish children in grades two thru 12.

The fire started inside the dining area of what’s known as the White House.

“It’s bittersweet. It’s a building most of us grew up in,” said Camp Airy Director Marty Rochlin. “Had all those years in there not only as campers but as staff. Thankfully it’s just a building.”

The fires started just after 7:30 Wednesday morning, according to Frederick County Fire and Rescue Services. Roughly 100 firefighters from Maryland and Pennsylvania responded to the blaze. Firefighters had to haul in water about a mile from a nearby pond to battle the flames since the building did not have sprinklers or fire hydrants.

“We had to lay hose all the way up,” said Deputy Chief Kenny Poole. We had to pump from one engine to the next engine, from that engine to the next one all the way up to get the water to the top of the hill.”

Firefighters also used two swimming pools at the camp for water. It took them about three hours to contain the blaze.

Camp Airy first opened in 1924 as a way for Jewish children to have fun and learn the significance of their culture.

All of that will continue said Rochlin, as letters went out to parents that told them campers will be fed on time, and the various activities will take place as scheduled.

There’s no word on how much damage the fire caused, though it’s believed to be extensive, nor is there any idea how long it will take for the damage to be repaired. However, Rochlin hopes to have Camp Airy fully operational sometime next year.


FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — One hundred firefighters and rescue workers were at Camp Airy Wednesday morning after a fire started in the dining hall.

The Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue (FCDFR) shared video from the scene of the fire in Thurmont on its Instagram account, along with some initial information.

In the video, you can see some firefighters working around the perimeter of the building. A ladder from one of the trucks can be seen extended over the dining hall while heavy smoke and flame roll along the edge of the roof. Heavy black smoke also can be seen as dozens of other firefighters prepare to assist.

Posts on the department’s Facebook page indicated that some of the first crews got to the camp, located in the 14900 block of Camp Airy Rd., at 7:25 a.m. At that time, there was smoke coming from the eaves. The department updated to say that the fire was on the second floor of the dining hall.

There was no one inside of the building when crews arrived, and FCDFR said no injuries had been reported.

Marty Rochlin, Director of Camp Airy, shared this message with families:

Dear Parents,

At around 7:30 AM this morning, a fire was reported in the Dining Hall (aka the White House) at Camp Airy. While it’s too early to tell the extent of the damage, we wanted to advise everyone that all campers, counselors and staff are safe and accounted for. No one was injured in the event. We want to applaud our counselors and senior staff for keeping our campers calm and safe throughout this event, and thank the first responders who remain on site for clean-up efforts.

As you might imagine, the White House is not only where we serve our meals, but also a hub of activity at camp. 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.

We will provide further updates on the situation as we have more news to share. Thank you for your support and patience in this matter.

Marty