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Fire Causes $200,000 Damage to Play Structure at Santa Maria Park

Donations sought to replace equipment ruined by early morning blaze

A suspicious fire early Monday caused $200,000 damage to a children’s play structure in Armstrong Park in Santa Maria. Click to view larger
A suspicious fire early Monday caused $200,000 damage to a children’s play structure in Armstrong Park in Santa Maria. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A suspicious fire early Monday morning melted slides and wrecked other elements of a large children's play structure at a Santa Maria park, causing $200,000 damage, according to city officials.

On Monday afternoon, metal barricades and yellow caution tape blocked off the structure at Armstrong Park on East Chapel Street to keep children away from the equipment.

The Santa Maria Fire Department extinguished the blaze, which was reported by multiple callers at 1 a.m. There were no witnesses to the incident.

After an investigation, the cause of the fire remained undetermined, Fire Department officials said. 

“It is unfortunate this happened. We’ve seen this happen in other communities, too, but this level of vandalism we haven’t seen in our park system in 20 years,” Recreation and Parks Director Alex Posada said.

“This structure was our biggest investment in that park. We don’t have replacement funds for that equipment,” Posada added.

Community donations are being accepted to replace the popular equipment. 

Donations toward replacing the structure may be made in-person at the Recreation and Parks Department’s administrative office, 615 S. McClelland St., or to People for Leisure and Youth Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports recreational activities in the Santa Maria area.

Online donations through the PLAY, Inc. can be made by clicking here.

Designed for 5- to 12-year-olds, the colorful steel-framed structure at Armstrong Park measures about 20 feet wide by 60 feet long. 

The equipment had plastic coating on its decks, walkways, bridges, and slides, and also had stairs, ladders, and a climbing wall. 

Armstrong Park remains open, with metal barricades surrounding the damaged play equipment, which sits in wood chips. 

The park has another structure for 2- to 5-year-olds, and tot swings and adult swings. 

Armstrong Park, at 1000 East Chapel Street near downtown, is the only park serving neighborhoods west of Highway 101 from Stowell Road to Alvin Avenue, city staff said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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