Hundreds turned away from closed tree house attraction

10:15 PM, Sep 2, 2012   |    comments
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A popular Crossville attraction is closed to the public by order of the State Fire Marshall.

The one hundred foot tall tree house has been open to visitors for decades and the owner says he's never had an injury.

But after an August 7 inspection, the state ordered Horace Burgess to lock his gates.

Burgess says twenty years ago he got a little divine inspiration.

"The Spirit of God said, 'if you build me a tree house, I'll never let you run out of material'," says Burgess.

He used all reclaimed or discarded wood. The tree house actually sits on the ground but wraps around several large trees.

"I love it with all my heart. I did it as a labor of love."

Thousands of people come to visit the attraction every year.

Burgess does sell concessions and also accepts donations. and according to a letter from the state;

"It has become an area attraction and is therefore required to comply with adopted building codes..."

But Burgess says there are no codes for tree houses.

"I want the state of Tennessee to come out here and tell me what I have to do to bring it up to what they think it would have to be to be safe," says Burgess.

The letter lists eight offenses including; exceeding allowable height by sixty feet, uneven decking and steps, fall hazards resulting from no guardrails, no obvious exit signs, and no fire alarm, sprinkler system or fire extinguisher.

Burgess says he knows there are improvements to be made, but argues that none are so severe to force him to shut down in the meantime.

According to the state's letter Burgess must hire a state certified architect or engineer to help get the tree house up to code if he wants to reopen.

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