Reporting Gigi Barnett
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Charred rubber and burned beams are all that remain of a Baltimore City playground.
The fire broke out in Cherry Hill on Wednesday, and now as Gigi Barnett reports, a neighborhood summer program is scrambling to find another place to play.
Neighbors in South Baltimore saw smoke billowing for miles from the Our House Community Center in Cherry Hill.
Just beyond the trees, firefighters battled a blaze on the playground.
“I thought it was the woods on fire,” Jasmine Moses, a parent, said.
With the firefighters gone, a burned patch of ground is all that’s left of the playground used by children in the community center’s Summer Camp Program.
What was once a place to play is now a source of sadness.
“When I came to work this morning, a few of the girls were just crying because they didn’t have so many memories at this playground,” Cherdaya Allen, the co-founder of the summer program, said.
Fire investigators say they playground’s foundation was made of rubber and that caused an intense burn.
Now, they’re trying to determine what and who started the fire.
“Someone could have literally flicked a cigarette, walked away and eventually ignited the rubber material,” Kevin Cartwright, spokesman for the Baltimore City Fire Department, said.
This isn’t the first time a City playground has gone up in smoke.
Back in 2008, firefighters battled a blaze at the 33rd Street playground.
In Cherry Hill, parents like Jasmine Moses say this was one of the better parks. And now after the fire, she wants her daughter closer to home.
“She can’t come up here anymore. I won’t even allow my daughter up here,” Moses said.
As the program now searches for other programs where children can play, fire investigators are also looking at how this blaze began, including arson. But that can take weeks to determine.
Investigators ruled the 33rd Street fire an arson. Meanwhile, neighbors tell WJZ they believe the Cherry Hill fire was started by a child playing with matches.