The axe has not yet fallen on the 200-year-old Lawson Cypress tree that was badly burned when the adjacent hut was set alight at a Cookstown forest park.
The fire, which is being treated as an incident of criminal damage by police, took place at Drum Manor Forest on Saturday, June 20.
The evergreen, which towers 150ft over one of the park’s lakes, sustained extensive damage while the hut was completely destroyed.
Read more: Outrage as vandals set fire to hut at Drum Manor in Cookstown
An eye witness, who was walking their dog at the time, said they saw a group of youths fleeing the scene before making their getaway in a light blue mini with a ‘R’ plate.
“This was no accident!,” they said, “I made the 999 call.”
It was originally thought that the tree would have to be cut down, sparking outrage from locals who had climbed its bows at youngsters.
Video: 200-year-old tree facing the axe after ‘deliberate’ fire at Cookstown forest
But in a new turn of events, it seems the tree could be saved, as a decision on its future has not yet been made.
“The Lawson Cypress tree affected by a fire at a visitor hut at Drum Manor Forest Park will be monitored over the coming weeks to assess whether it will recover,” said a Forest Service spokesperson.
Inspector Daniel Walsh said at the time: “I would ask anyone with any information about this incident or saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area to contact police at Cookstown Police Station on the non emergency number 101.
“Or if someone would prefer to provide information without giving their details, they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers and speak to them anonymously on 0800 555 111.”