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Key West Southernmost marker restored after fire, arrests made

Buoy damaged: The Southernmost Point buoy in Key West was damaged by fire early Saturday. (City of Key West)

KEY WEST, Fla. — The Key West Southernmost marker is ready for its closeup again. Workers finished restoring Key West’s Southernmost Point marker Thursday night after it was damaged in a fire intentionally set early on New Year’s Day.

“The Southernmost Point is one of the most iconic spots in the Florida Keys,” said Key West Mayor Teri Johnston. “People come from around the world in order to be photographed in front of this statue.

The red, yellow, black and white marker, a 20-ton concrete monument that resembles a giant marine navigational buoy, was installed beside the Atlantic Ocean in 1983 and designates the southernmost point of land in the continental United States.

“Our Public Works group has been out here since Sunday night working diligently to repair this iconic site,” she said. “They’ve done a great job.”

Every day, in a tradition that has spanned decades, scores of visitors line up at the corner of Whitehead and South streets to take turns photographing each other beside the landmark.

According to images caught on webcam, it was damaged when two men placed a Christmas tree in front of it and set it ablaze between 3 and 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 1. The flames caused a large-scale burn mark, with the cost of the damage estimated at over $5,000.

Thursday morning, Key West Police announced warrants issued for the two men suspected of torching a Christmas tree next to the landmark buoy.

David B. Perkins, Jr., 22, of Leesburg, Florida, and Skylar Rae Jacobson, 21, of Henrietta, Texas, face charges of criminal mischief with damages over $1,000. Thursday afternoon, Perkins turned himself in at a Monroe County detention facility in the Upper Florida Keys.

Jacobson is also expected to turn himself in, according to Key West Police Department spokesperson Alyson Crean.

Shortly after the fire, Key West Public Works employees began repairing the monument and repainting its graphics, including lettering that proclaims it stands just 90 miles from Cuba’s shores.

The Southernmost Point marker is so popular that, even before repairs were completed, visitors continued to line up beside it, waiting their turn to snap that iconic photo.