The Ocoee Whitewater Center in Tennessee has burned down following a fire ©Facebook/U.S. Forest Service Cherokee National Forest

An investigation has been launched after the Ocoee Whitewater Center, a venue at the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics, was destroyed following a fire.

The centre, located at Ducktown in Tennessee, burned down yesterday (April 26).

Firefighters had been called to the location and were able to control the fire, however the building was labelled a "complete loss."

"First, we are just so grateful that no one was injured during the fire and thankful to our partners for their assistance in getting the fire under control and investigating the cause," said Mike Wright, acting forest supervisor for the Cherokee National Forest.

"The Ocoee Whitewater Center was a unique site not just here on the Cherokee National Forest, but across the Forest Service.

"It is a difficult loss for us."

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has launched an investigation into the cause of the fire.

The Forest Service has said no-one is allowed on site while the investigation continues, with four trials having been closed off to the public.

The Ocoee Whitewater Center was billed as the first venue to host the Olympic whitewater event on a natural river.

The river was modified to enhance rapids for the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games, with the venue claimed to bring together the best of natural and artificial worlds.

Four slalom events were contested at the Games, with Slovakia’s Michal Martikan and Germany’s Oliver Fix triumphing in the men’s C1 and K1 competitions, respectively.

The Ocoee Whitewater Center hosted competition during the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics ©Getty Images
The Ocoee Whitewater Center hosted competition during the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics ©Getty Images

France’s Frank Adisson and Wilfrid Forgues topped the podium in the men’s C2 competition, while Czech Republic’s Štěpánka Hilgertová was the winner of the women’s K1 event.

The facility has been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but had been due to reopen next month.

The Forest Service says the centre is a key recreation site in the forest and hosts about 300,000 visitors a year.

Chuck Fleischmann, a member of the US House of Representatives from Tennessee, said he was "heartbroken."

"Heartbroken to hear about the loss of the Ocoee Whitewater Center," Fleischmann tweeted.

"Many of us have memories of fun at the centre with family and friends.

"Thank you to the firefighters who responded immediately.

"I know the TBI will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the fire."