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Two teens must pay for fire damage

Court orders pair to come up with $105,639 to replace public property they burned.

March 09, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

GLENDALE — Replacing a playground structure that was set on fire last year could take longer than expected as city officials wait for two teenage boys who set the blaze to pay the $105,639 needed for the work.

The boys, aged 13 and 14, were ordered on Feb. 25 to pay the city $105,639 to replace the refurbished playground at Glorietta Park, officials said.

But repayment could take awhile since the boys’ families must first come up with the funds, Glendale Police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

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In the meantime, city officials may look at possibly shuffling funding set aside for capital improvement projects to pay for a playground set, said Jess Duran, interim director of Community Services and Parks Department.

They may also search for grants to purchase the equipment or look for available money in the city’s General Fund, which he said was probably wasn’t an option.

The boys admitted to one felony count of arson each last month and were placed on probation, said Jane Robison, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

The fire was started when the boys, who authorities have not identified because of their age, stacked a pile of wood chips on Aug. 26 near the playground set and used a lighter to set it on fire, police said. The boys reportedly believed they stomped out the fire and walked over to a second playground set, where they again set wood chips on fire and before stomping them out.

But the first pile reignited and engulfed the play structure, which was composed of synthetic materials, sending flames as high as 50 feet, police said.

The boys fled the park before fire crews arrived and put out the blaze. But police found clothing and several snack bags on the playground.

Glendale police tracked the pair down using clothing found at the scene and surveillance video from a liquor store across the street that showed the two boys — one of whom was wearing clothes matching evidence found at the park.

The playground set had been refurbished less than a year before it was destroyed by the fire.

Since the blaze had come close to brush near several homes, it “could have been far more tragic,” Lorenz said.

“We’re lucky no one got hurt or it spread to the houses,” he said.
 
 

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