By Kevin O'Rourke
In what seems to be the second occurance of arson in the Germantown area in a week the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services were called a playground fire at the Cedar Valley Community Park, which is next to Sally Ride Elementary School, on Seneca Crossing Drive in Germantown at about 9:30 pm on Wednesday, Aug. 13.
While the two incidents don't seem to be related, last Wednesday, Aug.6 the MCFRS were called to an alleged arson on a vehicle parked on Mateney Road near Owls Run Way. To read more click here.
Last night’s fire heavily damaged the playground equipment at the Seneca Crossing HOA tot-lot, destroying the steps and melting most of the green canopy which covers the jungle gym. MCFRS chief spokesman Pete Piringer said via Twitter that damage estimates were greater than $100,000 and the fire was under investigation.
When asked if the fire was deliberately set, one firefighter at the scene said, “I can’t think of any other explanation, unless there were mice with matches.”
Beth Anne Nesselt of the public information office of the MCFRS said that while the investigation is still on-going there was no obvious signs of sources of ignition at the site of the fire.
The park is a private park owned and maintained by the Seneca Crossing Home Owners Association, according to Lisa Ringler of Silver Spring-based Chambers Management, Inc., the HOA’s management company. She said as soon insurance inspector clears the scene and the damaged equipment can be removed the company would begin cleaning the area. “The HOA will want to remove the damaged equipment as soon as possible,” she added.
“We do not have an estimate on replacement costs at this time. The area will have to be fully inspected to see if the fencing or other items need to be replaced as well and then get prices for new equipment. The HOA used rubber playground mulch at the site which melted, so that too will need to be removed and replaced,” said Ringler.
“The community has had no history of issues of this nature, so it was quite the shock for the neighborhood,” said Ringler. “Sadly, this is the second time this summer that an HOA we manage has had their tot-lot destroyed by fire. A community in Burtonsville with similar equipment and almost identical damage, was burned in June.”
She added, “Hopefully the person, or persons, who thought this would be a fun thing to do on a summer night will be caught soon.”
MCFRS spokesperson Beth Anne Nesselt added, “An informed and involved community is one of our best tools. Residents are urged to call police if they see anything suspicious or out of the ordinary. Regarding last night’s fire, Fire Investigators are asking anyone with information or who might have seen something to call the department’s Arson Tipline at 240-777-2263.”
Photos by Germantown Pulse