Neighborhood playground goes up in flames, arson suspected

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On most days, Kurt Warnstedt brings his boys to the park down the block to play on the slides. But Tuesday morning, there was nothing on which to play.

Late Monday night, the playground at the Fireside Community Center in north Phoenix erupted in flames.

"You could see a lot of flames from my house," said Warnstedt. "It appeared to me as though the sun shades had caught fire, so the fire was pretty high."

Families stopped by Tuesday to see what was left of the play area: wood chips still smoldering and melted plastic all around.

"Just disappointed," said Jennifer Breen. "The kids like this park and it's sad it will be out of commission for a little bit. I hope they can get it fixed quickly."

A Phoenix fire investigator spent the day taking pictures, while a Gilbert fire dog was called out to sniff for clues.

All indications are that the fire was deliberately set.

"It's super upsetting," said Melissa Grant. "I don't really understand it. None of it makes any sense. I'm not sure what the point is of burning down a kids' play structure."

A $10,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.

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Jason Barry
Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

Click to learn more about Jason.

Jason Barry

Jason Barry has been reporting in the Valley since 1997.

He is a nine-time Rocky Mountain Emmy Award winner who is best known for his weekly Dirty Dining reports, which highlight local restaurants with major health code violations.

Jason was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Miami.

An avid sports fan, Jason follows the Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Suns with his wife, Karen, and son, Joshua.

His favorite stories to cover are the station’s Pay it Forward segments, which reward members of the community with $500 for going ‘above and beyond’ the call of duty to help others.

Jason, started his career at WBTW-TV in Florence, SC before moving to WALA-TV in Mobile, AL, was named the Associated Press Reporter of the Year in 2002.

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