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Contact: Ardrianna Mclane, 239-695-1107
On April 9, 2016 at approximately 11:45 p.m. firefighters and law enforcement personnel responded to a fire at Monroe Station. The historic structure, located at the junction of Tamiami Trail and Loop Road, was consumed by fire and burnt to the ground.
Big Cypress Law Enforcement Rangers investigated all leads and within 48 hours focused in on a person of interest. The primary suspect, a man from South Florida turned himself in on April 11, 2016.
The suspect confessed to entering Monroe Station and climbing onto the roof to conduct "Spinning" also known as "painting with light". "Spinning" involves taking a piece of steel wool that is lit and swinging it in a circular fashion which produces a photo similar to a giant sparkler.
Two additional men from the ground photographed the event. It appears that during the photography activity a fire was sparked. The three men stated that they tried to put the fire out, but it spread too quickly and they fled the scene.
The incident continues to be an ongoing investigation.
Monroe Station was one of six way stations constructed in the late 1920s in the remote reaches of Collier County along the Tamiami Trail. Monroe Station and the Royal Palm Station, located at the intersection of CR 92 and Tamiami Trail were the only two that remained near their original locations, three of the stations have been destroyed over time and one was moved a great distance from its original site and modified for other use. The purpose of the way stations was to provide gas, and other conveniences to travelers.
In 2000 the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Since 2005 the National Park Service had been seeking financial support for the stabilization and restoration of the structure. Next steps related to the site are undetermined at this time.