Towering inferno at Wall Springs park ruled 'suspicious'

Observation deck at Wall Springs park a total loss

PALM HARBOR, Fla. - Whenever Patricia Pochurek's grandchildren came for a visit to Palm Harbor, she would take them to the Wall Springs Park observation tower.  

"The tower is special," Pochurek said. 

"You can go up so high and look down on top the birds' nests and see the Gulf.  It's wonderful."

That is, until Wednesday morning around 7:30, when multiple fire agencies responded to a fire at the four-story structure.  By the time the flames were put down, the tower was a total loss.

"It's an awful shame.  Really, a bad situation," said Jim Haughey, who lives right across the street from Wall Springs park and was walking his dogs when he spotted the bright, orange flames.

"I came around to where you can see the boardwalk to the tower, and the tower at that point was pretty much engulfed in flames," Haughey said.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office is calling the fire suspicious, but stopped short of calling it arson.  Investigators were at the burn site most of Wednesday, as the park was closed to the public.

Several joggers, bikers, and hikers who frequent the area were questioned by detectives, but no official cause has been determined.  

For those who were regulars and enjoyed the tower, many hope something is built in its place.

"People will really miss that tower," Pochurek said.  "I hope they rebuild it and find out why it burned."

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