Investigation into fire at Scotty’s Castle visitor center inconclusive

Local News

Courtesy: National Park Service

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. (KLAS) — The investigation into a fire at historic Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Park has been deemed inconclusive. While the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire) was able to establish the fire started in the visitor center, they were not able to determine the cause.

The fire broke out the night of April 21 and continued into the 22. All personnel left the construction site beforehand, and there was no evidence of arson.

CalFire did not find generators or equipment where the fire began. They also determined no electrical power was connected to the visitor center, and no lightning was reported.

The fire destroyed the visitor center, which was built in 1922 as the site’s garage, but the main house and other structures escaped unscathed. The center sustained extensive damage during a flash flood in October 2015, according to the National Park Service (NPS). Crews began repairing it in November 2020 after much preparation, and 37% of the process was completed when the fire occurred.

“We hope to be able to reconstruct the Visitor Center,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds in a news release. “The garage is the building closest to the parking lot. Its loss leaves a gaping hole in the historic landscape.”

Since the visitor’s center has been destroyed, park staff have been crafting plans for visitor services.  

NPS notes construction on other flood recovery projects at the site has resumed after a two-month pause. Crews had to halt, as there was a health risk due to wind-blown asbestos from the debris left by the fire.

For those who wish to visit the historic site someday, it is slated to reopen in 2023.

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