Suspected arson at Aberdeen playground under investigation

Officials say damage between $80,000 and $100,000
Posted at 9:16 PM, Aug 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 07:26:27-04

The sun is setting on summer, and the new school year is just days away. Some kids in Harford County are squeezing in as much playtime as they can.

"We come here to walk around, but nope, gotta play on the playground, it's her favorite thing to do," said John Ebbenhouse.

But around noon on Thursday in the Swan Meadows neighborhood, folks didn't hear the usual laughter and playing.

"I saw this black, thick, billowing smoke," Kathy Nelson said.

Nearby Victory Street Park Playground was on fire, the entire thing torched. Intense flames burned as Aberdeen Volunteer Firefighters rushed to put them out.

"It was just melting, it was melting away," Nelson said.

A disappointing demise to the 14-year-old play-place.

“And now as a result of someone or a group of persons, their actions have deprived a whole community of access to something that brings the community together,” said Sgt. Will Reiber with the Aberdeen Police Department.

Follow Catherine Hawley on Twitter @CatherineABC2 and like her on Facebook.


The State Fire Marshal is now handling the investigation, and thinks the blaze may have been intentionally set.

“Our officers canvassed the area, and at that time they met with a witness who observed several kids in range of 10 to 13 years of age that had been seen on the playground just minutes before the fire started.”

A serious crime, but it’s more than melted slides and destroyed monkey bars. The fire also robbed the community of a place to be outdoors and have fun.

"I just think it's horrible, these poor little children in this neighborhood, this was all they had, now what do they have,”Kathy Garress said.

Investigators say the damage is between $80,000 and $100,000.  Aberdeen had just given the playground a facelift this summer, sprucing it up and adding rubberized turf to the tune of $10,000.

"It's gonna take some time for this playground to be fixed," Reiber said.

The City of Aberdeen is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved with sparking the flames.

If you know anything-- call the Maryland Arson Hotline at 1-800-492-7529.

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android.