The fire started around 8 o’clock Thursday night in Cayuga. By the time crews arrived the historic grandstands were completely in flames.
It has not been officially called an arson yet, but that is the direction investigators are leaning.
I spoke with a few officials today, they said because of the way the fire was covering the structure all over, they believe there was probably an accelerator used to get the fire started.
Crews battled for as long as they could but ultimately had to make the decision to let the structure burn in order to save surrounding structures.
Now officials are reviewing what little security footage they have and asking for any help they can get from the community.
A $5000 reward has been set for any information that leads to an arrest.
The devastation caused by the fire goes well beyond Cayuga.
The grandstands were a gathering place for folks from all around Vermillion County to create memories.
And for Cayuga native Bob Craft, the grand stands were a part of his life.
Bob Craft says “We use to go to the grandstands all the time.”
The Cayuga Grandstands were a piece of american history. Built in 1933 as part of the WPA projects prior to World War 2, it served the Vermillion County community for 84 years, for park board chairman Bob Craft, that was his entire life.
Bob Craft says “I was born in 33 yes, I just kind of spouted off last night that it was birthday gift when they built it.”
That birthday gift that Bob jokes about, destroyed by fire in a matter of minutes. And with it a lifetime of memories left to nothing but ash.
Bob Craft says “Look at it. It’s simple. If you look at it you know what you had here. It’s all gone. It ain’t gonna be here any more.”
Not knowing what or who is responsible for the tragic fire makes it a little harder for people like Fire Chief Tim Wilson.
Tim Wilson says “If it was set. Why? What was the the motive behind it? What was the purpose?”
But even when, or if, officials find answers, It can’t replace the loss of what many people describe as the heart of Cayuga.
Tim Wilson says “It’s gone, you can’t replace it. It’s gone forever.”
Unfortunately it is gone forever. The town does plan to rebuild a structure there, but according to State ordinance the grandstands cannot be made of wood.