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Playground fire may have been intentional

| Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005, 12:00 p.m.

Vandals who unsuccessfully tried to set fire to a Lincoln Place playground over the weekend apparently came back Halloween night and tried again, causing about $40,000 in damage to the McBride Park playground.

The rubber mat flooring of the playground on McBride Avenue was charred in several places, and slides and other play equipment were burned, police said.

Someone noticed a fire burning at the park just after 8 p.m. Monday, said Zone 4 police Lt. Scott Schubert. On Sunday, a fire was set at the playground just before a neighborhood resident saw a group of kids running from the area, Schubert said. That fire was quickly put out with a fire extinguisher.

Pittsburgh arson detectives are investigating the incident.

"It's a shame that someone would do this," Schubert said. "This kind of thing causes a lot of grief to the community and the city, and it has a big impact. It's a safe place for kids and families to play."

Repairs likely will be completed in early 2006, said Mike Gable, deputy public works director. Until then, much of the playground will be unusable to area children and their parents.

The loss of the playground is the second blow the community has suffered in recent months. The city decided not to open McBride Pool in Lincoln Place this summer due to budget cuts.

"I am extremely disappointed that some fool would take it upon themselves to go out and destroy a playground,'' said city Councilman Doug Shields, D-Squirrel Hill, who represents Council District 5, which includes Lincoln Place. "It's an insult to the community.''

Shields said he wants those responsible to make full restitution to the city for the cost of repairs.

Anyone with information may call Pittsburgh arson detectives at 412-323-7800.

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