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Police: Child, seven, started fire that destroyed Lancaster playground

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Investigators say a seven-year-old lit a neighborhood playground on fire Sunday evening.  

It happened in the 1400 block of East Walnut Street in Lancaster.

“Coming up to it the smoke wasn't as bad and then once we got there it started pouring,” said Hunter Hardy.

Hardy says he pulled out his phone and started recording what he first thought was a house engulfed in flames. 

“I really did think it was a house or an apartment back there. I'm glad it was just a playground,” said Hardy.

According to Lancaster police, the seven-year-old found a lighter and was lighting rubber pellets on fire. The child told police he tried stomping the flames out with his shoe but it was too late. 

The flames traveled to the rest of the park, sending the slide up in flames. 

911 calls poured into the Lancaster Police Department as neighbors tried to put of the flames with a bucket of water.

“There's a little playground here in this development and the slide is on fire. Someone is trying to grab a bucket but the slide is pretty much on fire now,” said a 911 caller.

The Lancaster Fire Department says the damages to the playground, which belongs to the Fairfield County Metropolitan Housing Authority, could cost $25,000.

FMHA says they cannot comment while this incident is under investigation. 

Meanwhile, neighbors say the seven-year-old has special needs and that this was just an accident. 

Hardy is relieved the result wasn't worse.

“I'm happy everyone is safe. No one got hurt,” said Hardy.

Police have not said if the juvenile or his parents will face any charges.


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