An unexpected fire at the State Fair of Texas destroyed the iconic Big Tex statue on Friday morning.
The 60th Anniversary of Big Tex was being celebrated at the State Fair in Dallas, but the large structure was completely destroyed, leaving only its skeletal frame and its hands after catching on fire around 10a.m.
The State Fair's vice president of marketing, Mitchell Glieber, believes the fire was started due to an electrical shortage, according to WFAA TV.
"There's obviously some electronics inside of big Tex that leads to the ability for his mouth to move when he speaks," he told WFAA. "I believe there was an electrical short, but that hasn't been confirmed or investigated."
Firefighters arrived at the scene and put the fire out within a few minutes, but it was too late to save Big Tex as the 52-foot figure was destroyed within five minutes.
"It's a very sad day for all fair-goers," fair spokeswoman Sue Gooding told Fox 4 News. "It's a sad way to end the fair."
Officials plan to keep the State Fair of Texas open, but the area around the remains of Big Tex are closed off.
There was not a huge crowd at the Fair at the time. No one was hurt in the incident besides Big Tex.
"At this time in the morning, there was not a big crowd around here," Glieber told WFAA. "It started and within a five minute period it consumed its body, but that was more than enough time to get everybody out of harm's way."
The iconic structure has greeted festival-goers for several decades.
The structure was originally a 49-foot tall Santa Clause statue in Kerens, Texas. The Santa Clause was purchased by the State Fair of Texas for $750 and soon became the fair mascot starting in 1952 after being transformed into Big Tex. Big Tex was able to talk starting in 1953 and would greet visitors by waving and saying "Howdy," WFAA reports.
Fans took to Twitter to discuss the news and to mourn the loss of Big Tex.
"Whoa! Big Tex caught on fire at the State Fair of Texas... I grew up hanging out with this guy. R.I.P. Big Tex," wrote user @Colossal.
"Just heard Big Tex went up in flames. Sad to hear that. Big Tex is the iconic mascot of the State Fair of Texas," wrote @asphaltblogger.
"By far a sad day for Dallas and the State of Texas... RIP Big TEX the icon o the Great State Fair of Texas," wrote @gregtcrawford.
It is not clear if Big Tex will be rebuilt for future fairs.