Crews battle major fire at iconic Florida mansion

Stunned crowds gather in south Cocoa Beach as they watch a landmark, the Pumpkin Center, that was once owned by Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today, burn to the ground late Tuesday night, March 15, 2016, in Cocoa Beach, Fla. (Craig Rubadoux/USA Today/Florida Today via AP)

COCOA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A massive fire has destroyed an iconic Florida mansion once owned by USA Today founder Al Neuharth.

The 10,000-square-foot, oceanfront estate is a total loss, according to Cocoa Beach Fire Department Chief Ryan Duckworth. He added that no one was injured in the blaze, which was reported Tuesday night around 9 p.m.

On Wednesday morning, police cordoned off a road in front of the mansion, called the Pumpkin Center, to keep motorists away. Fire investigators were expecting to get a daylight view of the damage.

The cause remains under investigation.

Bystanders stood along the street Tuesday night, watching as firefighters battled the blaze.

Shey Anderson, who lives nearby, told Florida Today ( the fire grew rapidly.

“We saw the embers in the air and everything. It’s really sad. It’s been an iconic part of Cocoa Beach for a while now. I know that everybody knows the Pumpkin Center,” she said.

After Neuharth died in April 2013, his wife, Dr. Rachel Fornes, lived there with her children until the estate was sold.

Property owner Jeffrey Wells told the Florida Today newspaper earlier this month that his intent was to allow people to hold weddings at the property, once renovations were complete.

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