Teen charged after blaze razes playground
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.