SPENCER, Ind. — A portion of a popular state park is closed after a fire on the property. The front gatehouse at Cataract Falls State Recreation Area was destroyed in a fire over the weekend.
Just before 5:30 a.m. Sunday morning, someone on their way to work reported the fire to authorities.
“We came around, pulled up to the scene of a fully engulfed structure, flames coming out from everywhere,” said Steve Carrell, chief of Cataract Volunteer Fire Department.
The burnt building is now surrounded by caution tape.
“Oh, my goodness. We were wondering what was going on because we drove a long way to come visit today,” said Kristine Kehrer, a park visitor.
The plan is to tear down the gatehouse Tuesday and a new one will be installed a couple days later. There is a big push to reopen the park before the Fourth of July weekend.
“It is important to us that it’s open because that money does flow around this community and even back to our volunteer fire department,” said Carrell.
Steve Carrell is the chief of the Cataract Volunteer Fire Department. Most of the calls out to the park are rescue or medical related. They have had some suspicious fires in recent years.
“We’ve had a few arsons down here where people did not like the fences that were put up by the DNR and some of those were set a few times so we got calls for that,” said Carrell.
So far, the gatehouse fire is still under investigation. The State Fire Marshal was called out to the scene.
Homeland Security tells CBS4, it’s still too early to know how the fire started. Investigators are collecting evidence and looking for potential witnesses.
“We’re not sure about some things. Obviously, if anyone saw anything we’d want to do or at least be reported to us,” said Carrell.
As investigators take over the case, park officials are working to get this popular place back open as soon as possible.
The goal is to have Cataract Falls State Recreation Area open by Friday. Until then, DNR is encouraging people to visit other nearby parks like McCormick’s Creek State Park.