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Two Juveniles Confess to St. Alphonsus Playground Arson

The juveniles were observed on security cameras.

Two juveniles have confessed to setting a fire that eventually burned down a playground at St. Alphonsus Catholic School on March 11, the Ambler Gazette reports.

According to the article, Upper Dublin Police identified the two individuals Wednesday, and both confessed their involvement when interviewed the same day. Police said the individuals were a boy and a girl, one of whom is an Upper Dublin resident, but withheld any further information, the article says.

Patch that two of the school's security cameras had observed three teenage "witnesses" of the fire and that police were seeking their identities.

At the , Patch spoke to Caroline Dennin, an 8th grader at St. Alphonsus, who 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— playing with grass near the playground while in the car with her mother. She said she didn’t recognize them from the school.

Police confirmed that the fire was started using dry grass and a lighter, the Gazette reported.

“[The fire spread] due to the materials that the playground is constructed of," Timothy Schuck, Fire Marshal for Upper Dublin, told Patch. "It's plastic, the material on the ground is ground up rubber tires, so that burns pretty quick once it gets started.”

The two will now be petitioned to Montgomery County Juvenile Court to face charges that include arson and vandalism, the Gazette reports.

St. Alphonsus principal David Hayden told Patch that the playground carried significant emotional value because of its dedication to a former teacher, and predicts it will be rebuilt.

Hayden said that ten years ago, a kindergarten teacher at the school died of cancer. While she was teaching at the school, she had dreamed of having a playground of the kindergarten students to play on.

After her death, the school community came together and donated money, time, tools and more to build the playground that sat behind the school.

“[This loss is] a lot tougher for the people who were a part of that,” said Hayden. 

However, he said this gives the school a chance to rebuild the playground and rededicate it for the teacher. He added that it is a chance to remember the wonderful person and wonderful teacher she was.

Dr Steven Greene March 15, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Very sad on many levels.
Nancy Boland March 16, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Let's reconsider the use of recycled rubber tires for constructing the new playground. So sorry this happened but we're fortunate no one was hurt and it could be a blessing in disguise.

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