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Fire damages playground at Santa Maria park - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Fire damages playground at Santa Maria park

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Fire damaged the plastic playground structure at Armstrong Park. (KSBY photo) Fire damaged the plastic playground structure at Armstrong Park. (KSBY photo)

An arson investigation is underway in Santa Maria after a playground was damaged by fire early Monday morning.

It happened at Armstrong Park on the 1000 block of East Chapel Street.

Fire Investigator Darrell Delgado says the fire broke out at around 1:00 a.m. It reportedly started in the wood chips beneath the playground equipment then spread to the plastic structure.

Investigators have not yet identified any suspects or determined what caused the fire.

City officials say the fire caused approximately $200,000 in damage.

Community donations are being accepted to help pay for the cost of replacing the playground. Those donations can be made in person at the Recreation and Parks Department's office located at 615 S. McClelland Street or to PLAY Inc.

Jaime Leon was at the park just last Thursday. When he walked up to the park on Monday with his wife and two young children, he was shocked at what he was looking at.

"There are other places that people can go and do whatever they were doing in there, it doesn't have to be around a kids play place," Leon said.

Now, he says he and his family will have to pick another park to go to until the play structure at Armstrong Park is repaired. 

Ezra Paco, a Santa Maria resident, has been taking his son to the park for years, watching him grow up there while playing on the play structure, and now, practicing for his sports on the adjacent field. 

"Once my son was born, we used to do our walks around here," Paco said. "He kind of learned how to play on equipment here."

Monday, despite the charred and closed off play structure, families were still at the park attending baseball practice and enjoying what's left and open of the structure. 

"A lot of people use this place," Paco said. "It's a very important part of our town."

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