TUPPER LAKE — Vandalism damage to the 20-foot wooden lumberjack that stands watch over Tupper Lake's waterfront park is being assessed.The Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Association has yet to determine whether the hand-carved statue, which was damaged last week, can be repaired.Tupper Lake officer Jason Amell discovered the base of the icon ablaze shortly after 4 a.m. March 29 and called the Fire Department.Damage to the statue — which residents consider symbolic of their heritage — left the base charred and one of the lumberjack's legs severely burned.A section of the statue's axe was ruined by the fire, and the saw was broken in two.Crystal Boucher, executive secretary for the Woodsmen's Association, said the organization has maintained the centerpiece since it was erected in 1991."It is a landmark of the village, the town, the whole industry. They (Woodsmen's Association) are really upset by this."So far, no one has been charged in connection with the fire, police said, but the investigation is ongoing."Police don't know yet if an accelerant was used, but they believe the fire was started by a group of kids," Boucher said. "It's a criminal act; it's not mere child's play."The Woodsmen's Association will meet next Wednesday to appraise the damage and discuss whether the statue can be repaired, Boucher said."To have it remade is beyond our price range."Tupper Lake Town Supervisor Roger Amell expressed disdain for the disrespect."It represents our heritage. Lumberjacks are and always have been an important part of this community. I couldn't believe that someone would do something like that."There is some speculation that the fire was set as a vicious prank by youthful rivals from outside the community, Amell said.The statue was carved by Hal MacIntosh in 1990 to commemorate the town centennial and placed on the site in early summer 1991.It stands on a brick pedestal with steps that have become a popular backdrop for both tourist and family photos.Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Tupper Lake Village Police at 359-3776.
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