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Arson Squad Investigates After City Playground Set On Fire

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Gigi Barnett anchors the Weekend Morning Edition with Meteorologist...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Arson or accident? That’s the question city firefighters are trying to answer after someone torched a playground.

Gigi Barnett explains–it happened in west Baltimore.

Parents say, during the summer, their children have very few places to play. Now that firefighters in Baltimore City are investigating the fire, they are hesitant to call it arson.

Charred sliding boards and twisted equipment. Blue paint melted away.

It’s what greeted children who wanted to spend some time on the playground at Matthew Henson Elementary in west Baltimore.

“We always come out here for recess every day,” said Kelsey Johnson, neighbor.

Firefighters say someone torched the play area Thursday.

“This don’t make no sense,” said Iris Chase, neighbor.

“I thought it was somebody’s house that burnt down. It was that much smoke. That much black smoke coming from this one place,” said Donnetta James, neighbor.

Firefighters launched an investigation into how the blaze began, and police are looking for whoever set it, turning the blue playground black.

But firefighters are not calling the blaze an arson just yet.

“Our arson unit is investigating because of the fact that there appears to be burn damage,” said Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk, Baltimore City Police. “Whether that burn damage was accidental or intentional is something that will come out during the course of this investigation.”

The damage total is in the thousands, and kids who want to play there will have to find somewhere else to go.

Parents say those options are few.

“They don’t have, they don’t have anything for them to do in the summertime. They barely have anywhere to go to play play, and they’re going to do something like this to a playground?” said James.

Firefighters say once they figure out if the blaze was set on purpose or by accident, that will determine their next step in the investigation.

Some community leaders say children set the blaze, but police are still investigating.

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