Crime

A park’s playground went up in flames. Investigators believe fire was intentional

Instead of children going down the slide Tuesday, yellow tape was stretched around a Sarasota park’s blackened playground equipment.

The playground at Pioneer Park, 1121 Cocoanut Avenue, was burned overnight and investigators believe the fire was intentional, according to Sarasota police.

Police detectives and investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the Monday night blaze and asking for tips from the public.

When Sarasota County Fire Department crews arrived shortly after 9 p.m., they found the playground equipment on fire, according to Sarasota County Emergency Services.

The fire was so large and spread so quickly, the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined it was intentionally set, according to police.

Firefighters had the flames extinguished in less than 10 minutes.

Because the fire was not set to a dwelling, the State Fire Marshal’s Office said the fire is considered “malicious mischief,” police said in a news release.

No injuries were reported.

City of Sarasota staff tweeted the playground equipment will be replaced.

Damages to the park are estimated at nearly $100,000, according to Spectrum Bay News 9.

Anyone with information on the fire is asked to call the Sarasota Police Department Criminal Investigations Division at 941-954-7070 or leave an anonymous tip with Crime Stoppers by calling 941-366-TIPS or online at sarasotacrimestoppers.com.

Sara Nealeigh covers what’s happening in the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto, Florida for the Bradenton Herald. She previously covered breaking news for the Herald after moving to Florida from Ohio in 2016.
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