Arson suspected in Clinton playground fire

Tuesday , August 12, 2014 - 7:24 AM

CLINTON — Police suspect arson in a fire that charred a school playground Monday afternoon.

Four children say they were playing near West Clinton Elementary when they saw two juveniles run from a fenced area to the playground at 826 W. 1800 North.

“We started filling our water bottles up,” said Brad Maisey, who attends the elementary school. “My sister saw two boys sitting, propped up against the green slide, and then when we were done filling up, we looked over and it (the playground) was on fire.”

“I looked over and saw flames,” his sister Courtnee Maisey added.

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The siblings also smelled smoke in another place.

“We opened the bathroom doors and it smelled like smoke, so we decided not to go in there,” Brad said, “so we shut the door.”

The Clinton Fire Department responded to the call just after 3 p.m. with reports from witnesses saying the playground was fully engulfed in flames. A large black billowing cloud of smoke could be seen from the freeway. Upon arrival, the fire department noticed another fire burning in the men’s restrooms near the school grounds, across from the baseball fields, Fire Chief Dave Olsen told the Standard-Examiner.

“It’s suspicious in nature,” said Olsen, who believes the two fires to be related.

Authorities are still investigating the crime scene through video captured by school and restroom cameras.

This is the third arson attempt made by juveniles in the past three years, according to Tino Pastrana, the Davis School District Environmental Safety Coordinator. This time, they were successful, he said.

“For them to burn all that, they had to have had an accelerant,” said Pastrana, who inspects the district playgrounds. “I don’t know how they did it. It got pretty hot pretty fast.”

Pastrana said he could see smoke from Farmington when he got the call.

The Little Tikes Big Toy, made of plastic and metal, was installed about five years ago. The staircase, which ascends to the first level of the jungle gym, has 3-inch-thick padding, which also completely burned, Pastrana added.

Olsen said the school district estimates playground replacement costs to be around $75,000. Damage costs to the nearby restrooms are unknown.

The playground will remain blocked off to all students during school hours. 

“It’s a shame,” Pastrana said.

The kids agreed.

“Now no one can play on that playground in school,” said Hadley.

“I’m so mad that they burned down that playground; it’s the best,” said her brother Trace.

Olsen suggests anyone with information -- those who may have seen or know anything regarding this matter -- to call Clinton police at 801-451-4150.

Contact reporter Morgan Briesmaster at 801-625-4268 or mbriesmaster@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @SE_mbriesmaster. Like her Facebook page at http://facebook.com/SEMorganBriesmaster.

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