VINTON — Two juveniles are facing charges in the Saturday morning fires that heavily damaged playground equipment and a city pickup, as well as other fires that were set around Vinton.
At around 2:30 Saturday morning, someone set fire to the castle play area at Riverside Park, leaving just the metal shell and melted plastic around where the play area once sat. The senselessness continued when a Vinton Parks and Recreation Department pick-up truck was also deliberately burned where it sat next to the VPRD maintenance shed on North 8th Avenue.
The Vinton Fire Department responded to both fires and were able to put them out before things got worse. But then, reports started coming in from all over town with reports of yard fires, as someone was using an accelerant to randomly start blazes around houses, even trying to start at least one vehicle on fire as well. Fortunately, only minor damage was reported.
The two juveniles are not currently in custody, but they will be appearing in court soon to face charges that will likely include arson.
Vinton Parks and Recreation Director Matt Boggess estimates the cost of the destruction at the park in the neighborhood of $125,000 including the truck, but the damage was not the his focus Saturday morning. Boggess was instead looking forward.
We could keep asking the questions of why and how could someone do this,” Boggess said. “Obviously all those thoughts run through our through our brain but that’s not going to help us get the playground rebuild that’s not going to help us get this area that the community loves back up and running again.”
Boggess said he had already spoken to the manufacturer of the equipment that was just installed four years ago and replacements for the damaged castle are available.
He also said that he and his staff are committed to the kids of the community.
“People were driving by Saturday and you could see kids who were upset and crying,” Boggess added. “There’s a little tiny bit of their innocence that gets lost with something like this because they’re just used to going to a place and being able to play and now all of a sudden they see somebody ruin it. I feel like it’s I feel like it’s our job to re-instill in them the fact that that there’s a lot of good stuff going on in their town.”