Elementary school playground burned down before first day of school

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - People living in one Richmond neighborhood are trying to figure out who burned down a brand new playground.  Investigators say the fire is suspicious and this is the third school to be targeted.

Crews had to remove the most damaged parts of the playground at Woodville Elementary, but they couldn't remove everything.

"My oldest was with me; we both looked at each other and said, 'Wow! Not again!'" says Chanel Bea. Her children do not attend Woodville, but she knows what those students are going through. "We had a summer where our playground was destroyed."

Her eight-year-old twins, Kayla and Cameron, go to Fairfield Elementary a few blocks away. Two years ago, somebody set the Fairfield playground on fire.

The year before that, the playground at George Mason Elementary School was also damaged in a fire. Woodville, Fairfield and George Mason are within a mile of each other.

"I don't think they truly realize the cost or the impact that they're having on the community or the environment when they're doing these actions," Bea says.

Now investigators say the fire at Woodville is suspicious and neighbors have their own theories.

"We believe that kids are doing this just being mischievous," Bea says.

She says patrolling the schools at night could help, but this is not the proper way to start the new school year.

"They shouldn't have to go to school to this at all, but especially not on the first day," she said.

Woodville Elementary School's principal says the entire playground will have to be rebuilt.

If you know anything that could help figure out who did this, call Crime Stoppers at 780-1000.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.