Richmond school playground closed for weeks after fire

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)  — Authorities say an act of arson is to blame for a fire at a Richmond school playground.

Caution tape still surrounds the playground equipment t Woodville Elementary School after a suspicious fire melted pieces of the equipment Wednesday afternoon.

The interim superintendent of Richmond Public Schools, Tommy Kranz, says this is the 20th playground fire in the past six years and he’s fed up.

“It’s very troubling because what we’re doing is, when we have a fire like this, you’re taking away, you’re impacting the students throughout the district,” Kranz said.

Kranz says someone likely lit a fire under the slide area, which then spread as a result of the rubber material covering the playground.

“On average a playground fire runs a loss of about $125-150,000,” Kranz said. “We estimate in the case of the Woodville fire $75,000 in damage.”

Kranz said these incidents put the district in a tough spot, using money intended for district-wide maintenance repairs.

“Or, you end up having to make the choice not to repair the playgrounds, so the students at those particular schools are unable to enjoy the playground or the community is unable to enjoy the playground,” Kranz said.

Witnesses claim to have seen young-aged people running away from the scene.

The playground will remain closed for at least the next two weeks as school officials work with an insurance company.

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