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Cleanup day for fire damaged Santa Maria playground

On Thursday, crews at Armstrong Park in Santa Maria began clearing out a children’s playground structure that was destroyed in a fire early Monday morning.

Jessica Smeal and her family drove all the way up from Lompoc to hang at Armstrong Park.

“They’re mad, now they’re mad that we’re never going to go to a park again because it burned down,” parent Jessica Smeal said.

Crews removed damaged portions of the structure while city officials continue to evaluate how they will replace the damaged structure. There is no timetable on when the project will be finished.

“Children didn’t do anything, why would you base something on something that’s for children when they didn’t do anything, they’re the most innocent people on the planet and to do something that would affect them is just awful,” Smeal said.

Fire investigators estimated the damage to the playground structure to be $200,000 in damages. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Will Washburn lives across the street.. he believes this fire was set on purpose.. and hopes whoever did this is prosecuted.

“Would somebody get a thrill out of burning down this structure used by kids.. it doesn’t make any sense,” neighbor Will Washburn said.

Washburn and his wife have lived across the street from this park for 12 years.

“It’s shocking to think of why somebody would damage something that was such a community asset..I don’t understand it, what would motivate somebody to do such a thing,” Washburn said.

Santa Maria City Recreation and Parks officials say the city is accepting donations to help with the cost of replacing the structure. Donations can be made in person at the Recreation and Parks Department’s administrative office at 615 McClelland Street.

So far, the city has received less than $1,000 in donations.

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