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Birchland elementary playground torched

When students at Port Coquitlam’s Birchland elementary return to school next week, they will have to find somewhere other than the playground to share stories about their summer.

That is because the much of the climbing equipment as well as the slide and trolley were set on fire, sustaining significant damage and requiring a full replacement at a cost of $30,000.

“I wouldn’t say this happens often but when it does, it is very distressing,” said Cheryl Quinton, manager of communications and corporate services with School District 43. “This is equipment that the children really enjoy.”

The fire occurred in the afternoon of Aug. 15, and while new equipment has been ordered, Quinton said it is unlikely the structure will be put up in time for the beginning of the school year.

Four platforms were destroyed, half of the track ride was burned and a slide contributed by the city of Port Coquitlam was melted underneath. The flames also consumed the double slide, the summit climber, two benches and six posts, and much of the surfacing was burnt, among other damage.

Insurance will cover the cost to replace the playground but Quinton said many playground additions are purchased with funds raised by parent advisory councils (PAC) and additions would not be covered. She added that she was unaware if Birchland’s PAC had raised any money to for their playground.

Much of the fire was contained to the southeast corner of the structure, which was installed in March 2008.

The Coquitlam RCMP said so far they have no suspects in the case.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Coquitlam RCMP non-emergency reporting line at 604-945-1550. Those who wish to provide information anonymously can do so by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or by going online at www.solvecrime.ca.

gmckenna@

tricitynews.com

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