Fire destroys Catholic school playground

Police, fire officials to review surveillance video

A playground behind St. Alphonsus Catholic School in Maple Glen was heavily damaged by fire Sunday evening.

Upper Dublin Fire Marshall Tim Schuck said the fire was extinguished and an investigation was staged. Fire and police personnel will be back on Monday morning to continue the investigation in the daylight, Schuck said.

“[The fire] was spreading due to the materials that its constructed of. It's plastic, the material on the ground is ground up rubber tires, so that burns pretty quick once it gets started.”

He added that they couldn’t determine if the fire was deliberately set because the tires turn into a flammable liquid as they melt, which Schuck said removes any trace of an accelerant.

Schuck said the school does have surveillance cameras and fire and police viewed some of the footage Sunday night.

He said they could see persons at the playground prior to the fire, but that officials would look at the tapes "forensically."

“It’s an unintentional fire, at this time still under investigation...It could change,” said Schuck.

Caroline Dennin, an 8th grader at St. Alphonsus, witnessed an incident prior to the fire that she considered suspicious. Caroline said that around 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, she saw three teens—two girls and a boy—at the playground while in the car with her mother. She said she didn’t recognize them from the school.

Caroline said the teens watched their approach to the school and appeared to be waiting for their car to leave. As they pulled away, Caroline said her mother saw the teens run into the woods.

“It makes me nervous,” said Caroline. “I don’t know anyone who would do this to ourschool.”

Initial story below.

The private playground on the grounds of St. Alphonsus Catholic School in Maple Glen was heavily damaged by fire at about 6 p.m. on Sunday evening.

Police and fire officials remained inside the school after 8 p.m. Sunday night and were understood to be interviewing one or more possible eyewitnesses to the start of the fire.

We'll have further details on this story as they become available.


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