NEW BRAINTREE, Mass. — A centuries-old tree believed to be the largest white oak in Massachusetts has fallen victim to an arsonist.

No one is sure when the Great Oak in New Braintree burned, but it was discovered recently by a man out for a run while training for a triathlon.

Fire Chief Dennis Letendre says evidence gathered at the scene, including a glass bottle found in the hollowed out trunk, indicates arson. The fire weakened the trunk, causing the 100-foot wide canopy to collapse.

In 2000, the tree had a circumference of more than 20 feet 4-1/2 feet from the ground and was nearly 100 feet tall.

State Sen. Stephen Brewer, who represents the small central Massachusetts town, tells The Telegram & Gazette that destruction of the tree was “gruesomely hurtful.”


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