ASHFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut State Police reported Monday, March 1, that investigators were not able to identify the ignition source that caused the fire at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp on Feb. 12. The case has been closed.
State Police said in a release, in part, “Due to the catastrophic damage caused by the fire, the exact area of the fire origin could not be identified. It is the opinion of investigators that the fire started in one area, however, and quickly spread through the buildings that comprised the camp’s Main Street area and housed the woodworking shop, the arts and crafts area, the camp store, and the cooking zone. Investigators were not able to identify the ignition source that caused the fire.”
State Police say, though the cause is “undetermined”, there is no indication it was set intentionally or has any criminal aspect associated.
Tuesday, Feb. 23, Connecticut State Police’s public information officer who speaks on behalf of the State Fire Marshal’s Office denied any reports stating that the fire has been determined not to be suspicious.
State Police say the State Police Fire Explosions Unit continues to investigate and nothing has been ruled out as the cause at this time.
Firefighters in Ashford were dispatched to Paul Newman’s Hole in the Wall Gang Camp Friday night, Feb. 12, for reports of a large fire.
No injuries have been reported. Officials have not specified what the cause of the fire was.
Difficult conditions all-around at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for firefighters. They use dry hydrants, a water supply into the pond next to the camp, and it can be difficult in these freezing conditions to get the water flowing.
And once flowing, it rains down on top of firefighters and equipment and gear and ladders coating everything and firefighters in ice. Fire officials say flames did make it to the front of the dining hall and one other building, but the arts and craft building, woodshop cooking zone and camp store buildings were all destroyed.
No one was hurt, but it was a very difficult fire to battle.
“Frankly, it’s the cold… hazardous to operate in.”
One of the biggest problems firefighters had was the location. There’s only one road in and out. So firefighters showed up on the scene and staged in the parking lot and they shuttled them into the fire. Additional assistance was called.
The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp was founded by Hollywood legend, Paul Newman and has grown over the years. It is free to ill children and was closed last summer because of COVID.
One firefighter was hoping it would reopen this summer and they would see children on the grounds once again, but now with nearly half a dozen buildings destroyed, it will take a long time to rebuild.
Jonathan Lubin of Trumbull has been going to Hole in the Wall Gang Camp for over six years now. Jonathan was born with sickle cell disease.
“I like going to the camp, it has a lot of fun things there, and it’s kind of like a home away from home for me,” Jonathan said.
Hole in the Wall Gang Camp CEO James Canton released a statement:
We are saddened to share that there was a fire at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp this evening. We are extremely grateful that it appears nobody was injured but can confirm that our Arts & Crafts, Woodshop, Cooking Zone and Camp Store buildings were all destroyed. We deeply appreciate the quick response of the local fire departments and Connecticut State Police Troop C.
Although the cause of the fire is unknown at this time, what is known is that The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a community devoted to hope and healing. We will get through this in the way that we always have and always will – as a family.