School playground fire likely arson, fire officials say
The Anchorage Fire Department says someone may have intentionally set fire to and destroyed playground equipment at Gladys Wood Elementary School Friday night, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damages.
AFD first responded to the fire at 7:22 p.m. and found a large fire burning beneath playground equipment, a statement from the department said. APD was called in to help investigate when firefighters determined it could have been intentionally set.
Anchorage School District spokeswoman issued a statement Monday saying the cost of replacing the equipment was estimated between $50,000 and $100,000.
“The equipment won’t be replaced until after spring thaw,” she explained. “Also, the school is under construction this year so the playground area is already smaller this year due to portables on the property.”
She said the ruined playground equipment has been removed from the school’s property.
ASD Craft Tech Bryan Stenehjem said the total cost of replacement would be a minimum of $125,000, including labor. He said the equipment was only a few years old and was installed in 2012.
AFD’s Fire Investigator Brian Dean said the public could help the investigation.
“We are asking the public for assistance in identifying the individuals responsible,” he said in a statement.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Dean at 907-267-4900, or the Arson Hotline at 907-267-5060. An anonymous tip can be submitted via Crime Stoppers online or by calling 907-561-7867.
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