2 juveniles face arson charges for Linden playground fire

Posted: Updated:
Two juveniles will face charges in connection with a fire at a playground in Union County, Linden's mayor said Monday morning. Two juveniles will face charges in connection with a fire at a playground in Union County, Linden's mayor said Monday morning.
LINDEN -

Two juveniles will face charges in connection with a fire at a playground in Union County, Linden’s mayor said Monday morning.

The boys, ages 11 and 13, will be charged with arson and criminal mischief, Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said.

Linden Police Department Lt. Christopher Guenther said witnesses led officers to the boys after they allegedly returned to the playground.

“The two juveniles had left the scene and returned to the scene and witnesses in the area had identified them as being in the park at the time the fire started,” Guenther said.

The fire, which police called “suspicious,” was started around 3 p.m. Sunday at Wales Park on West Curtis Street in Linden, officials said.

Firefighters put out the flames within minutes, but in the short period of time that the flames burned, the playground was destroyed.

The combination of rubber and plastic burning created black, billowing smoke and an odor that was difficult for many to inhale, fire officials said.

Armstead said his town was told the ground material used at the playground was not flammable. 

“We use a crumb rubber for the underlay of these particular play areas, and we were told that they are nonflammable, but obviously that's not the case,” the mayor said.

Linden's fire chief said the rubberized material can burn and pairing it with the plastic of the playground equipment created an intense smell that led many to think an accelerant was used.

The fire chief said that although the investigation continues, he does not believe that was the case.

The two boys will be charged in juvenile court and were released to their parents.

Armstead said the fire was the fourth at a playground in the city.

The cost of the damage was estimated at nearly $80,000. The mayor said it will be at least a year until the equipment is replaced, and ground material at other playgrounds will be addressed.  

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Detective Phil Murphy at 908-474-8520.

sorry to interrupt
your first 20 are free
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please enjoy 20 complimentary views of articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.
you have reached your 5 view limit
Access to News 12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service ElectricSM customers.
Please login, create an account or subscribe to continue enjoying News12.
Our sign-up page is undergoing maintenance and is not currently available. However, you will be given direct access to news12.com while we complete our upgrade.
When we are back up and running you will be prompted at that time to complete your sign in. Until then, enjoy the local news, weather, traffic and more that's "as local as local news gets."