Melville FD: Lightning strike likely sparked USDAN camp fire

Posted: Updated:
WHEATLEY HEIGHTS -

A lightning strike is being blamed for causing a fire that destroyed two buildings at a renowned Long Island arts camp, according to the Melville Fire Department.

Fire officials say a lightning strike sparked the blaze at USDAN inside the heavily wooded area in Wheatley Heights.

Chief David Kaplan, of the Melville Fire Department, says they responded to a report of smoke in a building at the camp around 6 p.m. That’s where they found a transformer burning and extinguished it.

Ninety minutes later, the department received another call for a fire in a separate building. When they arrived, two buildings were fully involved.

Those two buildings were used for sculpture classes and had been there since the camp opened in 1968.

Camp director Lauren Brand Schloss credited the volunteer firefighters for keeping the blaze contained.

“We are so grateful for their response time because it was extremely fast and the fire was contained the whole time,” she said.

She also said that it was fortunate that the camp had ended last week and there were no campers on site.

One camp employee and one firefighter did suffer minor injuries and are expected to be OK.

Some of the famous alumni from the camp include Mariah Carey and Natalie Portman.

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