Woman gets probation for burning down The Senator

SANFORD, Florida (AP) - A central Florida woman accused of setting a fire that burned down what was believed to be the world's oldest cypress tree has been sentenced five years of probation.

Photo Gallery: Historic cypress tree catches fire, collapses

Sara Barnes entered a plea Wednesday in Seminole County court. The judge adjudicated the 26-year-old woman guilty of unlawful burning of lands, possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia. A suspended 30-month prison sentence will go into effect if she violates her probation.

The Senator, located in Big Tree Park, was the biggest and oldest pond cypress tree in the world until it burned down in January 2012. At 125 feet tall, it was estimated to be 3,500 years old.

Witnesses later identified Barnes as the person who started the fire. Barnes told investigators she set the fire while trying to use illegal drugs.


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