A fire has destroyed the oldest building at an Indianapolis Boy Scout camp, and arson investigators are calling it suspicious.
Calls came in to dispatchers around 4:20 a.m. from a Camp Belzer caretaker, stating a building was on fire near the recently rebuilt Center for Volunteer Training. By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had consumed the building.
"They have collected some samples that they are sending off to the lab," said Dino Batalis, battalion chief for the Lawrence Fire Department.
"Fortunately no one was in the building and no one was hurt," said Kevin McPherson, director of support services for the Crossroads of America Council. "That's really what is first and foremost on our mind."
Though there were no injuries, investigators also found that several buildings at the camp had been vandalized overnight.
"They've had some previous vandalisms on this property," Batalis said. "It's just a lot of lost history."
The building was the oldest still standing at the camp and served as a sleeping quarters for generations of scouts.
"It has been in service since 1920, serving the kids of Central Indiana," said Scott Clabaugh, scout executive for the Crossroads of America Council. "Twenty years ago when I moved to town it was the very first place I camped out."
Camp Belzer is no stranger to devastating fire. In November 2010, flames tore through the volunteer services building after floor restoration chemicals spontaneously combusted.
The latest fire doesn't appear to be an accident, which means Boy Scout officials are beginning to think about increased security.
"We have not, clearly, been able to secure this camp against the kind of random violence that might occur," Clabaugh said. "It's something our properties committee is going to have to think about."
"That's the unknown that really makes it difficult for us to manage," McPherson said. "If somebody comes in at night, how do you stop that?"
It's a question that leaders consider both sad and frustrating.
"There's a fair amount of anger," Clabaugh said. "That there is enough evil people in the world that would do some wanton violence like that, which just hurts kids and families."
The Crossroads of America Council is offering a $5,000 reward to those who offer information that leads to an arrest in this case. For more information, call Lawrence Police or the Crossroads of America Council.