Arson Destroys Elementary Playground


Residents of Hollister, California are upset by the loss of a local playground earlier this month. The playground at Calaveras Elementary School was completely destroyed by a fire on January 9th. Police believe that the fire was arson.

The playground had two structures, and the larger one has been completely destroyed, as the metal frame buckled under the heat of the fire. District Superintendent Gary McIntire told San Benito County Today that he had just inspected the playground and added new components the week before the crime. Replacing the damaged playground is expected to cost the district $100,000.

Witnesses reported seeing two people in the vicinity just before the playground was set on fire at 11 p.m. The Hollister police department is working with the witnesses to get a description of the suspects, and intends to release a flyer asking for information. The police department is offering a reward up to $1,000 for information that leads to the capture of the arsonists.

The playground has been fenced-off, and the Monday after the incident, crews were removing the rubber mulch to be taken to the landfill.

“In general, mulch is not considered to be a fire hazard,” says Don Saunders, President, Saunders Landscape Supply. “However, it is porous material and may become flammable if gasoline or similar liquid is placed on the mulch.”

Most of the playground has since been removed. Residents who wish to make donations for its replacement are urged to contact the school principal, as not all donations may meet the requirements of the insurance inspector.

The Calaveras Elementary School fire is, tragically, not an isolated incident. Two juveniles were arrested on suspicion of setting fire to the playground at Arroyo Verde Elementary School in Redlands, California on January 4th. Police in Yuma, Arizona are searching for suspects in a recent string of arsons in the city, and in Houston, Texas, law enforcement is requesting information regarding two individuals suspected of starting a fire at the Hambledon Recreation Center late in December.

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