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No cause found in fire that destroyed Death Valley building

Investigators couldn’t find a cause of the April fire that destroyed the historic garage at Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley National Park, a report said Thursday.

The Pahrump Valley Times reported that the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection determined the fire began in the visitor center.

The park service announced the conclusion of an initial investigation Thursday.

“The fire started the night of April 21/22 after all personnel had left the construction site,” the park said in a release. “No generators or equipment were located where the fire started. No electrical power was connected to the building. No lightning was reported. There was no evidence of arson.”

The fire also damaged a second historic outbuilding in the eastern California park. The historic district, in the northern section of the park, has been closed for ongoing repair work after extensive flood damage in 2015.

The historic main house and other surrounding historic structures were unharmed.

The historic garage, which was used as a visitor center, was the most heavily damaged building in the October 2015 flash flood. Scotty’s Castle is about 55 miles north of and 3,000 feet above Furnace Creek.

Scotty’s Castle was constructed in the 1920s as a vacation home for Albert and Bessie Johnson, millionaires from Chicago. Since its construction, Scotty’s Castle has drawn visitors seeking the truth behind the legend that it was built on a gold mine owned by the Johnsons’ friend, Walter “Scotty” Scott.

— Pahrump Valley Times reporter Jeffrey Meehan contributed to this report.

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