Anchorage police and fire departments are investigating a fire Tuesday that damaged a large piece of playground equipment at Mountain View Elementary School.
“Initial indications are that the fire was intentionally set,” a spokeswoman for the Anchorage Police Department said by email. The police department said the incident is under investigation and declined to provide further information about the potential cause or who may have started the fire.
Assistant Fire Chief Alex Boyd said that just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, an Anchorage Fire Department engine was sent to the Mountain View neighborhood school on the 4000 block of McPhee Avenue after a caller reported black smoke, flames and playground equipment on fire.
Three minutes after arriving, the fire crew extinguished the blaze, which was burning on a roughly 20-foot-by-20-foot area of shredded rubber mulch surfacing, he said.
The Anchorage School District is still assessing the extent of the damage, which could total around $150,000 to $200,000, said district spokesman MJ Thim. The same playground was damaged in a July 2018 fire.
A large piece of the playground structure at the west end of the school was destroyed in Tuesday’s fire. On Thursday morning, it was misshapen and melted, visible through chain-link fencing that had been put up around the affected area. All equipment except for the swing set was blocked off.
Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson’s office, state Sen. Forrest Dunbar’s office and the Anchorage Assembly offered the district support and met with the school’s principal and school board members on Wednesday, Thim said.
Mountain View Elementary principal Clare Hill, in an email to student families, said the playground will be closed until further notice, except for the swing set.
“In addition to that, we always need extra eyes on our school during the summer when we aren’t here,” Hill said, calling for families to refer people to the school district’s camper host program. The program has RV travelers park at school facilities to “provide a presence,” according to the district’s website.