Mahwah Police are investigating a “suspicious fire” that broke out at about 4 a.m. Wednesday morning at Camp Yaw Paw, a Boy Scout Camp in the Ramapo Mountains, Police Chief James Batelli said.
According to police, the large fire burned a garage/storage facility and nearby tool shed to the ground. The two structures were completely destroyed, he said.
According to Mahwah Assistant Fire Chief Ed Garza, the 60-by-60 foot garafe contained machinery, gasoline and a 500-pound leaking propane tank.
"The leak was feeding the fire, and as it was coming out, it looked like a sideways tornado of flames," Garza said. "Once it ran out, the fire went out."
The Fire Department prevented the fire from spreading through the Boy Scout camp or to other nearby buildings, authorities said. No one was hurt in the fire, police said.
A camp caretaker, who police say lives a short distance from the garage, reported the fire. There was no damage to his home, Batelli said.
Camp Yaw Paw was investigated by Mahwah authorities in May for a reported shooting by then camp caretaker John Mazanec. In May, police said they could not find evidence to corroborate Mazanec’s stories, who told them he shot at two unknown individuals who assaulted him at the camp.
According to Batelli, Mazanec is no longer employed by the Boy Scouts. Since the mysterious shooting, “Mazanec retained legal counsel and is no longer speaking to authorities,” Batelli said.
Wednesday’s fire is “considered suspicious and is under investigation by Mahwah Police Arson Investigator Michael Blondin,” Batelli said.
All of Mahwah's five fire companies, as well as crews from Oakland, Franklin Lakes and Ramsey, and Mahwah ambulance company 4, responded to the scene.
This was the first of two large fires the MFD responded to Wednesday. The second was a fire that destroyed four condo units and displaced about a dozen families in Society Hill.