Public’s aid sought in solving arson

first_imgCANYON COUNTRY – Arson has destroyed a school’s playground. A jungle gym, swing bars and slides at Rio Vista Elementary School burned to the ground last month, and now school officials are looking to the community to help with this unsolved crime. It’s considered the worst case of vandalism to ever strike the Saugus Union School District. A $1,000 reward has been offered by the district for information about the Dec. 19 crime that has shaken the school’s pupils, staff and parents. An arson unit of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is investigating. Amy Frank said her kindergarten-age son, Jared, seemed scared and upset about the situation and has repeatedly asked her why something like this could happen. “It’s little kids’ playground equipment. That’s absolutely terrible,” the Canyon Country mother said. “It was such a miserable thing for someone to do.” DeArmas said the school has experienced vandalism before – tagging, broken windows and occasional trespassers. The campus is locked, but sometimes people leap over the fence behind the school and get on campus after hours. The Cedarcreek Street school sits blocks behind bustling Soledad Canyon Road, in a neighborhood mixed with homes, horses and a storage facility. Bob Dale, 63, said property behind and around the school has had problems in the past because it’s isolated, and people go there to party. He used to hear loud music from the desolate area while working night security for a nearby facility and said it’s a popular spot because it’s easily accessible. “That makes the school kind of vulnerable,” the Santa Clarita man said. Last year the school completed a modernization project that added a new multipurpose room, a two-story building for more classrooms and a remodeled playground. Young trees are still tied to supportive stakes and dot the campus perimeter. The playground was about two years old. Meanwhile, students are playing ball and jumping rope on the fields and blacktop around the 37-year-old school. Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call Karzin at (661) 294-5300. Sue Doyle,(661) 257-5254sue.doyle@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita A chain-link fence now surrounds the area where the school’s playground once stood, keeping children out of the place that was planned just for them. The fire is estimated to have caused about $100,000 worth of damage. “You wonder why people would do something like that, especially to a school,” said Keith Karzin, the district’s director of safety and risk management. “To me, it’s very low for someone to do that.” A sign hangs in the school’s office window, alerting parents of the fire that happened during winter vacation. The district plans to replace the playground equipment and textured surface that covered the ground and also was destroyed. Residents living in the hills above the school saw flames on the campus around 8:30 that night and called the Fire Department, which doused it before flames spread to other structures, said Principal Isa DeArmas. Meanwhile, students are wondering what happened to their playground and why people would burn it down. last_img