Crooked River Light House

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Archives - May 2015

May 13, 2015

Fire at the Crooked River Lighthouse Park

By LOIS SWOBODA

Published: Sunday, May 10, 2015 at 02:43 PM. Apalachicola Times

The playground pirate ship "Carrabella," at the Crooked River Lighthouse, was completely destroyed by fire today, Sunday, May 10.

Between 11 and 11:30 a.m., emergency dispatchers received a report the wooden ship model was burning. Carrabelle Officer Amber Cardwell was first on the scene, followed shortly by the Carrabelle Volunteer Fire Department,, Franklin County  sheriff's deputies and members of Carrabelle’s police force.

Sheriff’s Deputy Jeff Hewitt said the 70-foot park fixture was completely engulfed in fla mes when he arrived.

Several trees were also beginning to burn. At least one small bouncy toy and a fence to the north of the Carrabella were also in flames.

A neighbor to the north, David Langston, said he first learned of the blaze when he saw neighbors running across the street toward the park. He said that, when he saw the fire, he threw all of the hose he could find on his tractor and rushed to the scene.

“By that time, (the fire department and police) had begun to arrive,” he said.

Langston described the fire as extremely hot with towering flames. He pointed out that vinyl siding on a house about 50-feet north of lighthouse park had melted.

“If (the firefighters) had gotten here 10 minutes later, it would have been a house fire,” Langston said.

Dan Cox, who belongs to the Crooked River Lighthouse Association, and was Carrabelle’s attorney at the time the Carrabella was purchased, said he believed the value of the model ship was more than $180,000. He said he believed the Carrabella was insured.

Cox said the lighthouse park is furnished with surveillance cameras. He said the quality of the film was poor but an initial review of the previous night’s footage seemed to show a small plume of smoke near the Carrabella during the early morning hours. He said it was possible someone had a campfire in the area of the wooden ship.

The sheriff’s office has the capability of enhancing surveillance footage as was done after recent burglaries at the Lanark Village Boat Yard.

Carrabelle Police Chief Craig Kincaid said the state fire marshal has been called to investigate the fire. He said that, while it is too early to call the fire arson, authorities would do a standard cause-and-origin investigation.

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05/13/15, 03:27 PM