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‘Suspicious’ fire damages Anchorage school playground

  • Author: Zaz Hollander
  • Updated: June 5, 2018
  • Published June 5, 2018

A fire Monday night destroyed playground equipment at Gladys Wood Elementary School in West Anchorage, fire officials say.

The fire was the second to destroy playground equipment at the Jewel Lake area school since fall 2016, when an estimated $125,000 worth of equipment was burned.

Monday's fire was reported around 10:30 p.m., according to Anchorage Fire Department assistant chief Erich Scheunemann.

Firefighters who responded found the jungle gym and slides burning amid a 225-square-foot area on fire at the school, Scheunemann said.

The fire was extinguished within seven minutes of firefighters' arrival, he said. It is considered suspicious.

It will cost at least "several thousand" dollars to replace the damaged jungle gym, according to Rob Holland, operations director for the Anchorage School District. The equipment was new, part of an extensive school remodel.

The playground, like others, has a late-night curfew but the district doesn't otherwise limit public access, Holland said.

"It's heartbreaking because we want families and community members to use these playgrounds," he said. "It's owned by the people of Anchorage. It's a senseless attack on the community as a whole."

The most recent school fire within the district occurred in December at College Gate Elementary School. The fire that began in one classroom was also considered suspicious.

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