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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.

Three juveniles from Saddle Brook have come forward to take responsibility for accidentally starting the  on Monday, said.

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 playground and assistant borough manager Jim Van Kruiningen said it will remain closed indefinitely.

Tommy P April 11, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Was this part not insured either?
Credit for what you take April 11, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Looks like they stole this picture from someone with out giving credit to that person
Bart April 11, 2012 at 03:19 AM
This picture where the playground is on fire looks like it was taken before it came out on the radio so how would the patch get it? unless they took it from someone who was there first.
Zak Koeske April 11, 2012 at 03:24 AM
The photo was submitted to Patch by a reader and it is credited as such.
Jenne April 11, 2012 at 11:56 AM
Drive your kids by that playground to show them what can happen when you play with fire. Those kids will probably be making payments to the court for years.
fred April 11, 2012 at 12:30 PM
The children's parents should pay for the restoration of the park. They do not live and Fair Lawn and their children were using our facilities. Complete restoration to Fair Lawn must be made. In the interim, the park must be rebuilt for the residents living on the park side of town. Brookdale should not be treated as if it were not part of Fair Lawn. It is a unthinkable to imagine that the powers to be do not care.
fred April 11, 2012 at 12:31 PM
The children's parents should pay for the restoration of the park. They do not live and Fair Lawn and their children were using our facilities. Complete restoration to Fair Lawn must be made.
fred April 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM
The children's parents should pay for the restoration of the park. They do not live and Fair Lawn and their children were using our facilities. Complete restoration to Fair Lawn must be made.
fred April 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM
The children's parents should pay for the restoration of the park. They do not live and Fair Lawn and their children were using our facilities. Complete restoration to Fair Lawn must be made.
fred April 11, 2012 at 12:32 PM
The children's parents should pay for the restoration of the park. They do not live and Fair Lawn and their children were using our facilities. Complete restoration to Fair Lawn must be made.
Chris Antonelli April 11, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Fred You cannot call for restoration based on that statement. It is a public park. Your argument by including residency was shot down in 1999 when a Prospect Park woman sued Haledon for being chased out of a public park because she wasn't a resident. Parents should be held accountable, regardless of residency. Also, based on what I've read, there doesn't believe to be malicious intent here, and the kids turned themselves in saying it was a stupid accident. Call it accidental and let the insurance pay for it. That's what it's there for and your homeowners insurance would probably do the same for your house. No point in pissing this around for a couple of years. This is where government should do its job in a timely manner.
Michael Alania April 11, 2012 at 02:03 PM
While I agree that the playground should most definitely be replaced as soon as possible, pulling Radburn into your argument while making a divisive comment about that neighborhood lends no credence to your statement. Notwithstanding the fact that there isn't even any mention of Radburn in the article, it is the Radburn Association - not the town - that is fully responsible for the upkeep of its private parks and playground equipment.
Allan E. Fineberg April 11, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Mr. Antonelli is right. Cut the kids a little slack and let's remember some of the dumb stuff we did when we were their age.
Nancy Ruf April 12, 2012 at 02:27 AM
im a softball player and i would always play at that park for softball and my little sister would play at that park and now to see it burnt down like that is awful i believe that those idoits should pay full restoration of the park they weren't from fair lawn what are they even doing at a fair lawn park what they don't have parks in saddle brook and how do they accidentally burn a park down by playing with matches NO WAY!!!!!!!
Mark C. April 12, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Yes the kids came forward and we all have done dumb things as kids but let's not pat the kids on the head and call it a day. Part of growing up is dealing with consequences and I hope the kids face some kind of reprimand.
Mark C. April 12, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Looking at the pics again....is it possible for just matches to cause that damage? Looks like lighter fluid or something similar was used. That fire was out of control.
Lisa M.P April 12, 2012 at 12:40 PM
My Dad was one of the volunteers who built that playground years ago, so this is particularly upsetting to me. While kids do stupid things, I personally think it would be best for everyone (the kids to learn an important lesson -that actions have consequences, and Fair Lawn to get its playground back) if they made restitution the park clean up and the building of a new playground. They should also get community service to keep the playground pristine for a period of time.
Allan E. Fineberg April 12, 2012 at 01:04 PM
It does make sense to have them do some community service by helping to rebuild the playground and keep the park clean, Helps to build character and a sense of responsibility for one's actions.
Tommy P April 12, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Here is the better question, how safe are all Fair Lawn parks if they can turn into a fire that big, that fast!?!
MOM April 12, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Considering Radburn is a private park (and I am sure it insured) it wouldn't get a thin dime from Fair Lawn. The real question is does Fair Lawn insure their public property?
MOM April 12, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I agree, also they (the children) did call 911 as soon as they got to a phone.
David M April 12, 2012 at 05:07 PM
Thomas Paine hit it the nail on the head. How safe are our playgrounds? I mean who is the genius who came up wiith the idea of using recycled tires/ rubber? Not only is it extremely flammable but it leaves your clothes, sneakers, and hands black. My kids play on this playground and I have to explain to them that the playground is no longer there because of some dumb ass kids playing with matches. I've also seen profane graffiti drawn on the playground and from time to time some an empty baggie or two that looks like someone was doing a little partying. C'mon Fair Lawn. I pay my taxes here like everyone else. Do something right.
Zak Koeske April 12, 2012 at 08:23 PM
@Bruce Jimmy told me today that the park will be rebuilt as soon as possible, after they go through the insurance hoops and safety testing and whatnot.
Michael K April 14, 2012 at 04:35 PM
One has to wonder if the products used in the park are safe. We all like that rubberized mulch but one has to question now ... just how safe is it when kids playing with matches can ignite it like that. Time to look for different playground mulch. I appreciate the integrity of the youth to come forward and do the right thing. Their parents taught them well. Sadly we all do foolish things when young (and older) - these kids just happen to "come forward - get caught".... how many of us got away with "it" in our youth?
fred April 14, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I bet that a fire enhancer was used. The material is fire retardant what was used. The paper would not disclose this info.
Curly Howard April 15, 2012 at 06:20 AM
they should be charged with arson i mean come on do you know how many kids actually played on that thing? because whenever i passed by there that playground was always being used, but to be honest i have a friend who was set up for lighting a fire meanwhile he was about 50 miles away from the scene his ex girlfriend started a pair of sneakers on fire and told the police it was my friend who did it and now he has a charge of felony arson on his record because of his ex girlfriend and that happened when he was only 17 i mean come on if a pair of sneakers set on fire can make a good kid who was no where near the place get charged with arson how come causing a damn inferno on a playground where a lot of kids play on doesn't get that charge i think that is wrong
R M April 16, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Curly, your friend needed a better attorney.....that story has nothing to do with this....because your friend was charged with arson everyone should be...there are all different levels of charges and each prosecutor and police department handle each situation independently....thank God for that....the boys took responsibility and told the truth....have faith in the Fairlawn police department they will do the right thing don't forget they are the only ones who know the whole story and are in the position to file what and whatever charges they determine are appropriate...it is not the publics job to determine how these boys should be charged...everyone should be concerned with the materials that were used to build the park....this was an accident with lessons to be learned for all....keep in mind no one was in the park and no one was hurt....so this is not a tragedy....just an accident ,a childish mistake and a bad judgement call by young boys...everyone take a moment and think back to a time where you did something stupid and then throw stones....this is not arson it was boys doing something stupid at the worse time ever...(extremely dry season)....less not drag this out....the park should be rebuilt right away with the insurance money and we should just let the police department do their job....at least this is how I feel being a tax payer............
Curly Howard April 16, 2012 at 05:35 AM
RM, I was just telling that story because it's remarkable that someone can be charged with arson by lighting shoes on fire but not by lighting a whole damn playground on fire. Second of all those kids are 12 yes old their parents shouldn't leave them home alone because from what I have heard the parents weren't around. And last but not least those kids didn't come up and confess their friend called and told the cops what happened not the kids who lit the park on fire because those kids ran and weren't going to tell anyone at all. And by the way I believe that the parents should pay for a new playground set not the tax payers or any other insurance company besides the parents of those kids
FLparent April 18, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Of course we are glad nobody was hurt. And yes, park items can be replaced...however, they are not going to be! That is where the frustration and disappointment lies!!
Eileen May 01, 2012 at 02:46 PM
I'm a little late on this but......First of all 12 year olds should not be roaming the streets especially in another town....I'm from saddle brook and delt with losers like that destroying my property and am so glad for the curfew.....Yes, the kids did try to call for help BUT they should have community service hours and some kind of punishment. Their parents SHOULD pay for damage. Set an example that when you let your children roam the streets and their parents probably didn't even know where they were, that they should pay the price for their kids too.

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