Fire destroys staircase at Tunnel Park in Holland

A fire destroys the staircase at Tunnel Park in Holland. (July 3, 2015)

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A fire at Tunnel Park in Holland destroyed the staircase which stretches from the park to the beach.

The fire was reported around 6 a.m. Friday by a boater who saw flames, although the fire chief said the fire was most likely burning all night.

“A passerby on the lake, a boater actually called it in about a 100-by-50ish area on fire. He was unsure what it was at the time,” said Lt. Andy Slaugh with the Park Township Fire Department.

>>PHOTOS: Fire at Tunnel Park

There was minimum damage to the observation deck. Dune grass near the staircase was also destroyed in the fire.

“It’s kind of upsetting because we like to come up here and see what is going on. There is always something exciting happening on the beach, different people and boats and just come up to watch and use the steps for exercise,” said Beth Durdle who walks the stairs often.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but remnants of fireworks were found at the scene. Investigators say it’s too early to determine if fireworks are what caused the fire, although lab testing is underway.

“It’s the same thing every year. Obviously use good judgement if you are going to light some fireworks off. Use good judgement and be safe,” said Lt. Slaugh.

The beach will be open Friday and can be accessed through the tunnel. The observation deck will still be accessible from the east side of Tunnel Park.

Crews on scene told 24 Hour News 8 that the stairs were only 2 years old, but the observation deck was scheduled to be refurbished.

The hope among those at Tunnel Park Friday is that out of the destruction a new set of stairs will rise.

“It’s sad for all the visitors now on a holiday weekend that come and have to face that. Yeah, we feel real about it. I hope they rebuild it real quick so we can have it and enjoy it and have visistors come and enjoy it,” said Durdle.

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