Fire destroys K Hut at Camp Belzer Boy Scouts training center
Cause of fire under investigation
Last Updated: 272 days ago
LAWRENCE, Ind. - The fire that destroyed a 92-year-old building at Camp Belzer in Lawrence may have been intentionally set, investigators said.
A park ranger discovered the blaze at the campground in the 6100 block of Boy Scout Road just before 4:30 a.m. when he heard an explosion.
The K Hut multipurpose building, which was the camp's oldest building, burned to the ground in less than an hour. No one was injured.
Investigators discovered that vandals had damaged at least five other cabins, breaking windows, kicking in doors and emptying fire extinguishers. They also damaged an outdoor fountain.
"We had several hits with the arson dog. We collected some samples," said Lawrence police Detective Ted Lich. "It looks like somebody tried to vandalize, break into the building itself."
The K Hut, which was a donation by the Kiwanis Club when it was built in 1920, had been recently restored.
"This is a camp that's used every day by 50,000 to 60,000 and families a year, and we use every square of it and every building. Any loss is important," said Scott Clabaugh, scout executive with Crossroads of America Council.
The blaze marks the second fire at the campground in two years. The fire at the campground's former training center caused $2 million in damage and was ruled spontaneous combustion after some oily rags were carelessly discarded.
"This (latest fire was in) a small building in camp. We do not know the reason, and we're looking forward to hearing from the fire department after they conclude their investigation," said Kevin McPherson, director of support services for Crossroads of America Council.
Detectives said they are confident that video surveillance from nearby homes and an apartment complex will give them a clue as to who may have set the fire and caused the vandalism.
Still, the damage will be costly for the camp in more ways than one.
"Some of the vandalism around the campground, there's no monetary value, but there's a lot of history that's been around for years that has a lot of sentimental value," said Lawrence fire Battalion Chief. "There's history in this camp, and that the sad part."
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