Police say teen admits torching school playground


When students at Hayes Elementary School in Fridley arrive for school on Monday, they will see their playground roped off to prevent them from playing on damaged or destroyed equipment.

A Saturday afternoon fire that burned half of the playground at the school was an apparent case of arson. FOX 9 reports that a 15-year-old admitted his involvement in setting the blaze. The teen told the station that he was smoking cigarettes with a friend and started a small fire with wood chips underneath the steps on a plastic slide.

Investigators don't know if the cigarette or the camp fire ignited the flames, but the station said that school surveillance cameras captured the incident.

“While this was an unfortunate incident we wished had never happened, we are grateful that no one got hurt. We cannot say at this time what will happen next, but we will rebuild,” the Fridley school district said in a statement.

KSTP said that the teen also gave them the name of the other teen who had a role in the fire.

Because the equipment was made of plastic, it ignited and spread quickly, according to Fridley Fire Chief John Berg.

Firefighters arrived to find the playground fully engulfed in flames. The Pioneer Press reported that it took over an hour for crews to extinguish it. No one was injured.

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