Patoka Considering Restricting Use Of Some Park Areas After Vandalism; Arson Fire (PHOTO GALLERY)

PHOTOS PROVIDED BY U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS / CLICK FOR LARGER VIEW

Patoka Lake (NNDC) – Several incidents at Patoka Lake Reservoir have officials concerned so much they are considering restricted use of some areas of the park.

The latest incident occurred Sunday morning. A small shelter house was found on fire. The shelter house is located in the lake’s overlook area just east of Dubois-Cuzco Road South. A boater, Nathan Meyer, noticed smoke coming from the shelter and alerted a maintenance worker, John Hovis, who used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire.

Dubois Volunteer Firefighters arrived a short time later and further doused the 8-by-5 roof roof of the shelter house.

A followup investigation of what happened found debris in a grill to the right of the shelter house. The Dubois County Sheriff’s Department says it appears someone took a trash bag from a trash can next to the shelter house and started a fire in the grill. DCSD says it appears some of the burning trash in the grill was used to ignite a separate fire in the upper eave area of the shelter house.

The shelter house and area is a popular place for gatherings like birthday parties, family reunions, even weddings according to a spokesman with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers district office in Louisville which manages the lake and recreation area.

Authorities are asking for the public’s help in finding the person or people responsible for the fires. They are also asking all those who use Patoka Lake to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity around Patoka Lake.

A spokesman at Louisville says the Corps of Engineers is considering restricting hours people can use recreation areas like the overlook shelter house because of all the recent reports of vandalism and thefts.

Recently, four large picnic tables were stolen from separate areas of the park including two 8-foot-long, American with Disabilities Act, double-access tables valued at $1,092 each.

They were stolen in late March from the picnic area below the dam on what is called the “tailwater” side of the lake.

All four of the stolen picnic tables were bolted to the ground.

The Corps says if restricted hours are imposed, they would not affect the lake’s state campgrounds, boat ramps and other facilities which are managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

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