Police are trying to figure out who turned a playground for children into a pile of ashes.
What was left of the playground at Broken Arrow Elementary in Shawnee, KS, was torn down Tuesday as police investigated who was behind setting the equipment ablaze.
"We got a call from my sister-in-law who lives about two blocks down on Johnson Drive on the other side, and they saw the smoke and thought it was our house on fire," Karl Nurnberger said.
Saturday afternoon Nurnberger got the call from his relative. It turns out it wasn't his house on fire, but instead it was playground equipment at Broke Arrow Elementary right behind his Shawnee home.
"It's always busy, it's just kind of a neighborhood hangout for all the youngsters," he said.
Fire investigators quickly figured out the fire was intentionally set. On Tuesday, workers were busy tearing down what was left of the equipment so no one got hurt playing in the debris.
It's an estimated $50,000 loss that's gone up in smoke.
"That's probably the most frustrating thing because we're already short in school budgets and now $50,000 are thrown away to replace equipment that was fine to begin with before someone had to torch it," Nurnberger said.
"It was pretty significant damage," Capt. Dan Tennis with the Shawnee Police Department said.
Police are following leads and believe they might be close to solving the case, but it will be months at least before the equipment is replaced.
"It's sad for kids. That's a hit that the school's probably not ready to take," Tennis said.
Signt Partod called 911 when he saw the smoke from his house across the street. Once the fire was out, he had to tell his 5-year-old son his favorite play area was no more.
A spokesperson for the school district said they will have to get bids to replace the equipment and that will take some time.
The school district is cooperating with the investigation.
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