Historic tree catches fire in central Florida park

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 7:47 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 16, 2012 at 7:47 a.m.

LONGWOOD, Fla. — Firefighters say one of the world's oldest cypress trees has caught fire in central Florida.

Seminole County firefighters arrived around 7 a.m. Monday at Big Tree Park in Longwood, where officials tell the Orlando Sentinel (http://thesent.nl/xBjd2H ) that "The Senator" caught fire.

"The Senator" is a 118-foot-tall bald cypress tree. According to the county's parks and preservation department, the tree is roughly 3,500 years old.

Parks officials say the tree reached a height of 165 feet before a 1925 hurricane lopped off its top. Afterward, lightning rods were installed to protect the tree from more damage.

The tree is main attraction in the park dedicated in 1929 by President Calvin Coolidge.

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