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Camp Airy Dining Hall Fire Deemed Total Loss, Estimated $2M Damage

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A major fire at a camp dining hall Wednesday in Frederick County was deemed a total loss with an estimated $2 million in damages, the Frederick County Fire Marshal's Office said Thursday.

The fire was reported about 7:30 a.m. in the dining hall, also known as the White House, at the Camp Airy for Boys in Thurmont. Over 100 firefighters from Maryland and Pennsylvania responded to the blaze, and the fire was deemed under control around noon.

No camp staff or campers were near the fire when it occurred, police said, and no injuries have been reported.

Authorities said hot spots rekindled overnight and throughout the morning Thursday, bringing crews back out to continuously monitor and put water on it. Over 85,000 gallons of water was placed on the remnants of the structure Thursday to ensure the fire was completely extinguished, officials said.

The Frederick County Fire Investigations Task Force is investigating the blaze. The Fire Marshal's Office said that any intentional or suspicious factors as the cause of the fire have been ruled out.

"As you might imagine, the White House is not only where we serve meals, but also a hub of activity at the camp," the organization said in a statement Wednesday. "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 a full slate of activities."

A local nonprofit on Thursday said it is sending 600 meals to the camp in the wake of the fire.

Philanthropists Lillie and Aaron Straus founded Camp Louise in 1922 "to offer Baltimore's immigrant women an outdoor respite from the city's cramped working conditions," according to a history on the camp's website. The family converted the then-shuttered Melvue Hotel near the Catoctin Mountain into the White House.

The women's camp was soon moved to a new site in Cascade, Md., and Camp Airy was founded in 1924 to serve boys.

Camp Airy is set on 450 acres and includes a swimming pool, athletic fields, an archery range, tennis courts, a rope course, and an outdoor theater with seating for 600, according to its website.

The organization running both destinations, known as Camps Airy & Louise, maintains offices in Northwest Baltimore.

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