Suspected arson damages playground equipment in Abbotsford

Fire reported at Thomas A. Swift elementary on Sunday morning

Kids attending the Hand in Hand daycare at Thomas A. Swift elementary in Abbotsford are questioning why someone would torch a portion of the school’s playground and smash four windows.

“Why did they do this?” asked one boy, as he looked over the damage on Monday morning.

The middle portion of the playground – an area of about 30 by 30 feet – was blocked off by tape and temporary fencing due to damage from the suspected arson.

Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said the vandalim was reported at about 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, and no suspects or witnesses have been found. The exact cause is not yet known.

The area, located at 34800 Mierau St. in east Abbotsford, cannot be seen from the road, and much of it is bordered by trees.

The bulk of the damage was done to a plastic climbing wall, which now consists only of the metal poles that supported it. A wooden platform for the monkey bars was burned, and several plastic pieces – including a slide – melted from the heat.

Dave Stephen, spokesman for the Abbotsford school district, said the damage to the playground and windows is estimated at $15,000. The district is reviewing its insurance coverage to determine whether the equipment can be replaced.

The playground, which was built to accommodate kids in wheelchairs and with other challenges, was completed about five years ago from funds raised by the school, in addition to a $25,000 grant from Ronald McDonald House.

“This is an extremely disappointing and shocking act of vandalism that takes away a community and school play area from children,” Stephen said.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225.