PALM HARBOR – Pinellas County’s Parks & Conservation Resources Director Paul Cozzie got an unexpected wakeup call the morning of Sept. 11 from the Palm Harbor Fire Department.
Palm Harbor firefighters responded to a fire at Wall Springs Park, 3725 De Soto Blvd. in Palm Harbor, just before 7:30 a.m. They soon discovered that the observation tower was ablaze. Pinellas County officials closed the park for the day shortly thereafter.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s detectives with the Arson and Auto Theft Unit are investigating the fire that reportedly caused substantial damage to the 35-foot tower. Detectives said the fire appears to be suspicious in nature and asks that anyone with information that could help detectives to call Detective Larry McLean of the Arson and Auto Theft Unit at 727-582-6200.
The observation tower was added to Wall Springs Park in 2005 and cost about $315,000. The cost was paid from Pinellas County’s Capital Improvement Fund.
The tower allows visitors a panoramic view of the 210-acre Wall Springs Park, which is located on the site of a historical, natural spring that was once a popular spa and bathing area. It is home to an array of wildlife, such as squirrels, raccoons, rabbits, reptiles and birds.
County officials report that no wildlife was affected by the fire, although some vegetation, mostly pine needles and leaf litter, was burned.