Authorities in Florida suspect that an arsonist destroyed one of the oldest cypress trees in the world.


The 3,500-year-old tree, known locally as "The Big Tree," went up in flames early Monday morning, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

It was officially named "The Senator" after former state Sen. Moses Oscar Overstreet donated the land for Big Tree Park to Seminole County in 1927.

"From my observations it appears to be arson," state Division of Forestry official Mike Martin told the Sentinel. "It looks like the fire was concentrated right where the tree was."

Historians say the tree survived a 1925 hurricane, but its height was reduced from 165 feet to 119 feet.

The charred remains now stand at about 25 feet.

Watch this video from The Orlando Sentinel, broadcast Jan. 16, 2012.