Arsonist targets local playground

July 8, 2009 8:01:50 AM PDT
An arsonist is targeting a place where children play in Kingwood. The fact that it's happened twice in the past week has many parents there concerned. On the Fourth of July, instead of lighting fireworks, somebody set the playground ablaze. With school about six weeks away, it looks like elementary kids will only be able to look at their playground through an orange mesh fence.

At 6:30am, a Kingwood home owner started his Independence Day by snapping pictures of the Foster Elementary playground which was transformed into an inferno.

"I came out to turn on the water and the sky was filled with flame and smoke. I ran in and called 911," said resident George Brookover.

The fire was put out, but the damage was already done. Plastic parts had melted and metal supports were charred.

Arson investigators actually have two scenes on their hands. Two days earlier on July 2, arsonists also broke into and set a fire inside the parent-teacher storage shed.

So things are now quiet as the orange mesh fencing keeps a neighborhood adventure off limits.

"A lot of grandparents, like us, take their grandchildren over. It's a good diversion for them and we don't have to do anything but sit on a bench," said Brookover.

That had been the routine for the last decade. The playground at Foster Elementary was purchased back in 1998. The $60,000 price tag was raised by the school PTA, taking years of fundraising.

"It did take two years to raise the money for the equipment in 1998," said Foster Elementary PTA President Amy Bujnoch.

That came as a shock to Brookover, who said, "I had no idea it was that expensive, but it was a great piece of play equipment and had people on it all day, every day, all year round."

The PTA president says unfortunately the playground was not insured because it would have raised the school's deductible too high. Now 11 years later, she says replacing the playground will likely cost about $80,000.

HFD is investigating, but currently have few leads.

You can read more about the playground fires in our Houston Community Newspaper partner, the Kingwood Observer.

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