At 3.20 am Thursday morning, the fire department was called to the Goethe Tower in Frankfurt am Main after "numerous emergency calls."
By the time the emergency services arrived, the flames were burning so high that the 43-metre tall wooden tower was considered too dangerous to extinguish, so the fire service secured the surrounding area and tried to prevent the fire from spreading.
The tower is located in the Sachsenhausen part of town and according to Frankfurt city figures is the tallest wooden observation tower in Germany.
It was named at its opening in 1931 for the centenary of the death of iconic writer, naturalist and academic Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
According to a spokesperson for the fire service, Thorsten Brückner, the more than 80-year-old tower "collapsed and couldn’t be saved.”
In the early morning, 10 metres of the tourist attraction were still on fire and only four supporting columns remained standing.
It is still unclear whether the cause of the fire was arson but Brückner ruled out an electronic defect as the cause. It is also unknown where on the tower the blaze began, but investigations cannot begin until the fire is completely out.
It is estimated that the few remaining embers will have to be extinguished over the course of the day. Only then can detectives and experts pick apart the rubble and begin to uncover exactly what happened.
Around 60 firemen were called out to the scene to control the fire, but the situation could have been even worse if the fire had occurred earlier in the year.
“Luckily it isn't the peak of summer,” said Brückner, explaining that flying sparks could ignite on contact with the dry forest floor and cause more considerable damage.