BOISE, Idaho (AP) - U.S. Forest Service officials in northern Idaho say the rubber-soled decorations that made the "shoe tree" a beloved Priest River landmark also helped fuel its demise.
Tourists and locals since the 1940s have dressed the tree with hundreds of pairs of shoes, nailing sneakers to its trunk and hanging work boots from its branches.
Firefighters found the tree engulfed in flames late Thursday, and the blaze was difficult to extinguish because the sizable cedar was covered in melted shoe rubber.
Officials have long discouraged people from adding shoes to the tree, which has become an eccentric roadside attraction featured on various travel websites.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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