Woman accused of torching 'The Senator' re-arrested

Deputies charge Sara Barnes with drug possession

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CASSELBERRY, Fla. - The woman charged with setting fire to one of the world's oldest trees, "The Senator," was arrested again on drug charges, according to the Seminole County sheriff's office.

Sara Barnes, 27, was charged with possession of drugs and drug equipment after deputies said she was driving on Stefanik Road with no headlights on and ran a stop sign on Sunday morning. Deputies spotted a homemade smoking device in Barnes' car and found a bag of methamphetamine, according to the report.

Barnes is accused of setting the 3,500-year old Cyprus tree on fire in January at Big Tree Park in Longwood. The tree, known as "The Senator", once stood 120-feet tall, and was believed to be the tallest and oldest tree of its kind in the United States and the 5th oldest tree in the world.

Barnes was arrested in February and was also charged with drug possession. She pleaded not guilty in April to the charges.

Investigators said Barnes climbed into the tree's hollow trunk and lit a fire to see better.

The tree, named after Florida Sen. M. O. Overstreet, who in 1927 donated the property on which the landmark sits, was about 120 feet tall and its trunk had a diameter of nearly 18 feet. The tree was the main attraction in the park, which was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1929.

Barnes bonded out of jail on her second set of charges with $6,500 bond.

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