Charges Pending for Juveniles Who Sparked Playground Blaze
Three juveniles from Saddle Brook have admitted to starting the fire that consumed the Brookdale Park playground on Monday.
Sgt. Richard Schultz said charges will be filed soon against at least two of the juveniles who were playing with matches in the playground Monday morning and inadvertently sparked the blaze. He said they would be charged as juveniles, likely with some form of criminal mischief, because they had not intended to burn down the playground.
Schultz said the juveniles had been striking matches and throwing them down on the ground when the situation got out of control.
"They did try to put [out the fire]," he said, "but between the wind and the material, they lost control of it and they panicked."
The juveniles fled the scene after the fire spread and called police later on to report it, Schultz said. At that point, however, the police phone banks were already ringing off the hook with reports of the playground conflagration.
Later in the day, Schultz said one of the juveniles came forward to explain the situation and take responsibility for the group.
The Parks Department has since cordoned off the Brookdale Park playground and assistant borough manager Jim Van Kruiningen said it will remain closed indefinitely.