Blue Streak roller coaster gone, but not due to fire

CONNEAUT LAKE (AP) — A wooden roller coaster built more than eight decades ago that was the centerpiece of a northwestern Pennsylvania amusement park is no more, but officials say it wasn’t destroyed by a fire at the park last week.

Early reports had indicated that the Blue Streak roller coaster at Conneaut Lake Park was damaged by a fire Tuesday from a controlled burn, but the park said later on its Facebook page that heavy equipment had been in the process of demolishing the coaster in accord with a permit issued for that purpose.

“A burn permit was also issued to have small controlled fires to burn the wood as demolition continued,” the statement said. “A mechanical issue occurred to the heavy equipment used to assist in the control, causing the fire to spread to the front part of the loading dock.”

No injuries were reported. Dan O’Meara, chief of the Summit Township Volunteer Fire Department, told the Erie Times-News that the roller coaster was “gone,” tracks and all, and fire crews were “more worried about the carousel,” which was undamaged.

The coaster was built in 1937 and has been opened and closed a number of times over the years. It didn’t operate last year due to the need for a structural evaluation, officials said.

Conneaut Lake Park has operated as an amusement park since 1892, when it opened as Exposition Park, but has been closed a number of times during years of financial difficulty. The park didn’t operate in 2020 during the pandemic but reopened for a shortened season in July.