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Police Search For Vandal Who Torched Jersey City Playground

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Surveillance footage of Lincoln Park playground fire (credit: CBS 2)

Surveillance footage of Lincoln Park playground fire (credit: CBS 2)

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JERSEY CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Towering flames engulfed a playground at Lincoln Park just after midnight Tuesday, but investigators said it was was no accident.

“A very sick individual who did this,” Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari said.

Schillari told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez that someone poured an accelerant on the flammable rubber flooring surrounding the park’s jungle gym before setting it on fire.

Security cameras were rolling as firefighters arrived at the scene, but the suspect was nowhere to be found.

“We have this area on patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Would only take seconds. My car leaves the area and it only takes a couple seconds to douse a chemical and throw a match,” Schillari said.

Torched metal and melted plastic were all that remained of the jungle gym, which was renovated only one year ago.

Diego Araque lived in the neighborhood for 25 years and loves bringing his grandson to the park.

“It’s a very sad situation,” he told Sanchez. “They don’t think what they’re destroying doing this. This kind of act. It’s vandalism,” he said.

Like many parents, he said he’s sickened by whoever would destroy something that brings so much joy to children.

“I play on the slides,” 3-year-old Amasia Oliver said.

“That’s horrible. Why would they do that to a kids playground? That’s doesn’t make any sense,” said Amasia’s mother, Crystal Oliver.

Investigators will continue to examine surveillance footage, and hope someone will come forward with information.

The playground was renovated with Green Acres federal funding, but currently there’s no funding to replace the jungle gym.

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