Charges in burning of 3,500-year-old Fla tree

Associated Press

LONGWOOD, Fla. (AP) — Authorities say a central Florida woman is in jail, charged with setting a fire that burned one of the world's oldest cypress trees.

Investigators say two witnesses identified 26-year-old Sara Barnes as the person who caused the 118-foot-tall bald cypress tree named "The Senator" to burn and collapse Jan. 16.

The Seminole County parks department says ring samples showed the tree was roughly 3,500 years old.

The Orlando Sentinel (http://thesent.nl/yidEHC ) reports that Barnes also took photos of the fire with her cellphone. The Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement searched Barnes' Winter Park home Tuesday and confiscated her cellphone and laptop. Authorities also reported finding methamphetamine, scales and drug paraphernalia. Barnes told investigators she set the fire while trying to use illegal drugs.

Jail records didn't say if Barnes had an attorney.

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Information from: Orlando Sentinel, http://www.orlandosentinel.com

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