Playground at Harbourview Park destroyed by arson

House under construction in southwest Edmonton gutted by fire

When four-year-old Ella Ray saw that her favourite playground structure was completely destroyed in a fire she was devastated and confused, says her mother, Elise.

"She was extremely upset," Elise said.

Melted plastic and charred wood are nearly all that is left of the pirate ship playground structure at Winnipeg's Harbourview Park and Recreation Complex.

Police are blaming arson for the fire that destroyed the structure just before 11 p.m. Monday.

When fire crews arrived at the park on Springfield Road, the entire play area was engulfed.

Fire officials said the rubber chip ground cover, used to soften falls, is flammable, which helped spread the flames across the whole area.

Officials also said there is no fire hydrant nearby, so water had to be shuttled over, adding to the challenge of fighting the fire.

"None of us in the community can understand why anybody would want to take the joy of nature and the joy of play away from kids in the neighbourhood," Elise said.

The park was extremely important to people who live in the area. Not only did it have what Ella liked to call "spaceships" to play on, but it also had bathroom facilities, which is "huge when you have toddlers," Elise said.

"It is such a huge park. It's beautiful, it has nature trails, it has nature with geese, goslings and rabbits. It also had the most amazing play structure ever," she said.

Elise and Ella were at the park on Saturday having a picnic.

"There were kids everywhere you looked," Elise said.

"Everyone is very upset because it was such a great park. It had a little bit of everything."

The sad-looking melted yellow slide means the fun is gone and the family will have to find somewhere else to play. Elise said it just won't be the same.

"We are looking for another park that's going to be our favourite," she said.

Police estimate the damage at $200,000. 

Anyone with information that may assist investigators is asked to call 204-986-6813 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).