Teen charged af­ter blaze razes play­ground

The London Free Press - - LOCAL - DALSON CHEN

WIND­SOR — A 13-year-old boy is fac­ing an ar­son charge af­ter a fire de­stroyed hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars worth of play­ground equip­ment in Te­cum­seh, which the mayor says will take months to re­place.

“It’s an un­for­tu­nate thing,” Mayor Gary McNa­mara said. “It’s go­ing to be out of com­mis­sion for the rest of the year, and we’ll be into the spring next year be­fore it’s re­opened.”

Heavy smoke drew Es­sex County OPP of­fi­cers and Te­cum­seh fire­fight­ers to La­casse Park Tues­day, where they found the play­ground area en­gulfed in flames.

The 13-year-old sus­pect was ar­rested at the scene, and is to ap­pear in court at a later date.

McNa­mara said the boy ap­peared to be alone. “It didn’t take long. (The fire) took off and de­stroyed the equip­ment.”

Loss is es­ti­mated at $400,000. “That set of equip­ment is ex­tremely ex­pen­sive,” McNa­mara said. “When we first in­stalled it, the cost was in ex­cess of $300,000. Now we have to de­mol­ish what’s left, and re-pre­pare the site for new equip­ment. The re­place­ment cost will be quite high.”

McNa­mara said the equip­ment was in­sured and he doesn’t ex­pect dif­fi­culty han­dling any ex­tra cost.

The large play area was the re­gion’s first “bound­ary-free” play­ground. Mem­bers of the Ro­tary Club of Wind­sor-St. Clair were heav­ily in­volved in the play­ground’s con­cep­tu­al­iza­tion, fundrais­ing and in­stal­la­tion in 2004.

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