Driftwood arch at Brock Environmental Center goes up in flames

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – For years, a driftwood arch has welcomed visitors to the Brock Environmental Center. 

Now, it’s gone. 

Someone likely burned down the arch Friday morning. 

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation said the arch was installed five years ago. The foundation wanted something that made people stop and appreciate the beauty around them while visiting the Brock Center. 

What once stood as an iconic piece of art is now nothing more than charred wood.  

“I can’t even believe somebody would do that,” Ram Dahiya said. “It’s such a beautiful place, you know.” 

The wooden arch at the entrance of the center went up in flames early Friday morning. 

We’re told employees of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation found the mess when they came in for work.  

Firefighters put out the blaze, and although the official cause hasn’t been released, it appears the fire may have been intentional.  

“There was no electrical lining or anything within it. It was a metal structure surrounded by driftwood,” said Chris Gorri, manager for the Brock Environmental Center. “It’s just disheartening, if that is truly what happened, that somebody would do this.” 

The arch was made of driftwood from the James River and has been used for photo ops and Christmas cards. 

Not only was it an admired art piece, but an educational tool too.  

“We had hidden critters in it, so education programs that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation run would start here, identifying the critters of the Chesapeake Bay and why they were important,” Gorri said.

Visitors at the center were shocked to find out what happened.  

“I live on the beach. I pick up driftwood all the time so I was hoping I could build something similar. I just loved it,” Dahiya said. 

Despite losing the arch, the foundation is thankful it wasn’t worse.  

“As sad as we are about the arch, we can replace the arch, but we cannot replace Pleasure House Point and they contained that and we are so grateful to them for that,” Gorri said. 

The foundation said it hopes to eventually replace the arch, but it hopes visitors will respect the park now and in the future. 

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