Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Public safety

Fire at Starkey Park caused $285,000 in damage

NEW PORT RICHEY — The fire at Starkey Wilderness Park on Tuesday afternoon destroyed a maintenance shed and all of the equipment inside, causing an estimated $285,000 in damage.

The park was evacuated as firefighters battled the blaze, but it is now open to visitors.

No parks employees or firefighters were injured in the fire.

Pasco County parks director Rick Buckman said nearby parks are loaning equipment to keep operations running at Starkey.

"They're sharing, and they're going to be providing support," he said. "We'll get the grass mowed, and we'll get things taken care of."

Buckman also said crews are in the process of running temporary power to a well that supplies water for the park's day use area.

Assistant Fire Chief Cynthia Holland said investigators believe the fire started from a spark that flew from a grinder wheel in the building.

Buckman said grinders are used to sharpen mower blades and cut steel for other purposes. He said the spark likely went unnoticed by workers because nobody was inside the building when it caught fire.

"It was a big building and a lot of county equipment that was damaged," Holland said. "It's a large property loss, but fortunately no one was injured."

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

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Published: 04/24/18