WINDHAM COUNTY, CT. (THECOUNT) — A Friday night blaze destroyed a large portion of the Paul Newman “Hole in the Wall Gang Camp,” in Windham County, Connecticut. The camp is funded in part through proceeds from the sale of “Newman’s Own” brand products.
The camp, built for seriously ill children, was devastated by a fire that broke out Friday around 5 p.m. and destroyed an area housing a store, arts and crafts, woodshop and cooking programs.
Jimmy Canton, the chief executive of the camp in Ashford, said it appears no one was injured in the blaze.
“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,” Canton said in a statement. “We will get through this in the way that we always have and always will — as a family.”
Tom Borgman, the deputy chief of the Ashford Volunteer Fire Department, said the fire destroyed two buildings, including a large structure that was made to look like the center of an old western town. Different sections of the wood-frame building were constructed to look like separate buildings, housing different programs, according to WKYT.
Multiple local fire departments assisted in putting out the fire, located at, 565 Ashford Center Rd in Ashford.
Firefighters were able to save the camp’s infirmary.
It was not immediately clear if anyone was working at the camp at the time of the fire.
The camp, with extensive medical facilities on site, was founded by Newman in 1988 in the woods of eastern Connecticut, with a Western motif inspired by the late actor’s movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.”
It provides summer camping experiences adapted for children with serious physical and medical limitations, although its traditional summer camp was canceled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The charity also runs outreach programs for children in more than 40 hospitals, clinics and other settings in the Northeast, serving more than 20,000 children each year.
The origin and cause of the blaze were being investigated by federal, state and local authorities.
Geo quick facts: Windham County is a county located in the northeastern corner of the U.S. state of Connecticut. As of the 2010 census, the population was 118,428, making it the least populous county in Connecticut. It forms the core of the region known as the Quiet Corner – Wikipedia.