December 20, 2014

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11-year-old charged with setting Washington School playground fire

An intentionally set fire engulfs the playground at Washington Elementary School Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF LORAIN POLICE

An intentionally set fire engulfs the playground at Washington Elementary School Sunday. PHOTO COURTESY OF LORAIN POLICE

LORAIN — A fire which lasted for around 15 minutes on Sunday and burned through a playground structure was allegedly started by an 11-year-old boy who quickly confessed to causing the incident.

Around 3:15 p.m., police saw smoke at the playground of Washington Elementary School near the intersection of Washington Avenue and West 20th Street in Lorain. The source of the smoke was a fire which had engulfed a playground set near the school, according to the Lorain Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Fenn.

The Fire Department was able to extinguish the fire within minutes but because it had been burning for more than 10 minutes before their arrival, Fenn said the playground set was destroyed. According to Fenn, nothing else was damaged in the fire, except for the playground set and some of the surrounding area.

Destroyed equipment is seen Monday at Washington School in Lorain. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Destroyed equipment is seen Monday at Washington School in Lorain. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Witnesses told police that they saw a boy start the fire by spraying lighter fluid on the playground set and lighting it. The boy then ran to his house across the street, according to police.

When police met with the boy and his grandmother, the 11-year-old admitted through tears that he had started the fire, according to the report. He was charged and taken to Lorain County Juvenile Detention Home. The boy was charged with arson.

Fenn added that while the Fire Department has seen cases of arson at school playgrounds in Lorain before, this does not seem to be connected to any other similar incidents.

The boy’s grandmother and guardian also said that her grandson has never done anything like this before.

Tom Tucker, superintendent for Lorain Schools, said that he does not know the cost of the damage yet, but the last time a similar fire was started on a Lorain school playground, the damage was around $120,000.

Contact Anna Merriman at 329-7245 or amerriman@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnaLMerriman.