Fire destroys visitor center at Bristlecone forest

Fire destroys visitor center at Bristlecone forest

4 September 2008

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USA — A remote center for visitors to the forest of the oldest living trees on Earth was found destroyed by fire early Thursday, an Inyo National Forest spokeswoman said.

A passerby reported the fire at the Schulman Grove visitor center at 8 a.m. and by then it was already destroyed, said spokeswoman Nancy Upham. Staff had left at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The cause of the fire was under investigation by a representative of the state fire marshal and a special agent from the U.S. Forest Service, Upham said.

The center was at an elevation of 10,000 feet and about a 45-minute drive from the town of Big Pine, which sits in Owens Valley between the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains, home of the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest containing trees more than 4,000 years old.

The center was a log cabin-style building that had no electricity other than solar power.

The loss was estimated at between $600,000 and $800,000, Upham said.

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