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Fire Closes Wilson's Imagination Station

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WILSON — A downtown Wilson science museum is closed after an early morning fire Friday. Three floors ofImagination Stationwere damaged.

From the outside, the damage does not look extensive, but many of the museum's unique exhibits were damaged or destroyed.

The fire started in a tropical rain forest exhibit on the second floor. Only one turtle out of dozens of animals survived.

Investigators believe a heat lamp with a bad wire is to blame.

"There was one sick lizard that had a heat lamp and a ceramic heater treating the animal, and there was a short in the heat lamp," says Wilson Fire Chief Don Oliver.

The cleanup now begins for the science museum that has become a regional attraction, drawing visitors from the Triangle and beyond.

The upcoming spring season is normally one of the busiest times of year at Imagination Station.

"Our groups average between 50 to 75 [people]. We could have two or three of that size group come through in one day. We would average up to 3,500 over the course of the spring," says Steve Peterson of Imagination Station.

"We at the Chamber get a number of calls from people from as far away as Raleigh and Burlington who take the train to bring their children down and go through this facility," says Bruce Beasley of the Wilson Chamber of Commerce.

All that will be on hold, at least for a few weeks, as the museum scrambles to rebuild. Imagination Station is insured, but will rely on donations for part of the recovery.

"This museum would not be here today if it were not for this community," says Peterson. "They built it, and we are counting on them to help us rebuild it."

If you would like to send a check to the cause, Imagination Station will be happy to accept donations.

Imagination Station224 East Nash StreetWilson, N.C. 27894

Rocky Mount's children's museum is also closed due to Hurricane Floyd. Both disasters will leave children in the area without a museum, at least for a few weeks.


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