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Goldsworthy's Spire Damaged by Fire Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

25 June 2020

Arson is suspected in an early morning fire that damaged Andy Goldsworthy's Spire sculpture in the Presidio on Tuesday.

Goldsworthy's Spire. Circa 2009. Nikon D300 with 18-200mm Nikkor at 26mm (39mm equivalent) and f10, 1/1000 second and ISO 800 with a circular polarizer. Processed in Adobe Camera Rar..

The fire was reported at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning when the 100-foot tall spire was engulfed in flames that shot above the tree line. Embers from the fire started several spot fires in the clearing around the sculpture, itself made of 35 felled Cypress trees.

The Fire Department said the fire and spot fires were all contained by 10 a.m. thanks, in part, to the fog.

But the damage had been done by then.

Presidio Fire Marshall Matt Kiolbassa reported, "The entire structure is damaged by the fire. There is some charring and discoloration that runs the entire height of the structure."

The Presidio Trust said it was evaluating whether the structure "can be saved." SFFD Battalion Chief Glenn Kircher confirmed the sculpture still appears structurally sound. Forestry crews as well as the engineer involved in the original construction will determine if the spire is stable enough to remain in place.

Surveillance footage from the adjacent Presidio golf course clubhouse may help identify the suspected arsonists.

"It's confusing and dismaying to imagine that someone would vandalize a work that celebrates our connection to nature at a time when we need it the most -- to buoy our spirits and provide solace," said Cheryl Haines of the For-Site Foundation, which commissioned the artwork for the Presidio in 2008.

"The burning of Spire goes too deep for my own words," Goldsworthy himself said in a statement released by Haines Gallery, which represents him. "Besides, Spire has always spoken for itself and will perhaps now speak with an even greater eloquence after what has happened. If anything, its epitaph will be better written in the memories, thoughts and words of those who have lived with it over the past twelve years."

The artist also expressed surprise the spire had survived, suspecting the peeling bark functioned as tinder for the flames, saving the timber itself.

He also suggested the fire may have reduced insect infestations in the wood. And the charring, he noted, is a wood preservative. "There is a possibility that the structure will come out of this even stronger," he added.

The beloved sculpture has been the subject here of a Friday slide show in 2014 and featured in our review WhiteWall's Direct Print On Wood.

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