Tennessee treehouse, once the world's largest, burns to ground

Built by a local minister in the 1990s, the 97-foot-tall treehouse was reduced to rubble in just 15 minutes

It only took 15 minutes for a fire to completely engulf and destroy what was once known as the world’s largest treehouse.

Called the Minister’s Treehouse, the wooden Tennessee structure sat at 97 feet and was built by  a local minister in the 1990s. While taller tree structures have since been built, the 10-story treehouse once held the spot of the tallest in the world.

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The fire, which began at around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 23, quickly spread to nearby trees and consumed the 10-story structure. Within 15 minutes, it left only rubble and wooden remains on the site. Local fire authorities are still investigating the cause of the fire.

“Unless somebody comes up and tells us they seen somebody doing it, you’d probably never know what started it,” Cumberland Fire Department spokesperson Bobby Derossett said in a press statement.

Former minister-turned-architect Horace Burgess often said that he felt a calling from God to build the treehouse. For a while, it was a beloved local tourist attraction until, in 2012, authorities closed it for visitors due to failure to adhere to building codes.

Once started, wildfires and forest fires can be very difficult to control due to the dry air and density of trees in the area. At the moment, thousands of California residents are under evacuation orders as firefighters battle to stop forest fires and wildfires all over the state.

Email Veronika Bondarenko