'The Senator' tree, one of world's oldest cypress trees, catches fire and collapses in Florida

Arson may be to blame

LONGWOOD, Fla. (AP) -- One of the world's oldest cypress trees has caught fire and collapsed in central Florida.
   
The 118-foot-tall bald cypress tree named "The Senator" caught fire early Monday.
   
Seminole County Fire Rescue spokesman Steve Wright tells the Orlando Sentinel (http://thesent.nl/xBjd2H) that the tree burned for several hours from the inside out.
   
Firefighters arrived around 5:50 a.m. and pulled more than 800 feet of hose through Big Tree Park. Wright says a 20-foot section of the tree fell off around 7:45 a.m., and the tree collapsed a half-hour later.
   
Mike Marin of the state Division of Forestry tells the Sentinel that arson may be to blame.
   
County parks officials say "The Senator" was roughly 3,500 years old and reached a height of 165 feet before a 1925 hurricane lopped off its top.

The tree is main attraction in the park dedicated in 1929 by President Calvin Coolidge.
   
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Information from: Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com
  

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