Two juveniles were arrested and charged with arson-related offenses, Piringer said.

The damage at Granville Gude Park was minimal; several sections of the slide were burned and melted.

City officials closed the slide and by Monday, someone had posted a printed-out notice that read in part "This is the result of stupid teens in our community, our children don't deserve it."

Lhotsky said it costs around $200 to replace each damaged section of the slide, so costs were not as high as repairing Discovery Community Park's damage and would be around $1,000.


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Two fires are similar

The fire at Emancipation Community Park Monday was the third playground fire at a city park in little more than a week.

Several Laurel residents saw the fire and clouds of smoke at the playground in the Grove community and called Laurel Police. When Laurel Volunteer Fire Department units arrived, the playground was "fully engulfed in flames," Piringer said.

After the fire was knocked out, wooden structures at the playground were still standing but plastic parts of the equipment, such as a climbing wall and bright purple slide, were burned off and melted.

Lhotsky estimated the damages to be between $80,000 to $100,000.

Emancipation Community Park is adjacent to the parking lot of Laurel Library and near the former site of the Laurel Grove School, where Laurel's African-American students were enrolled from 1930 until 1962.

The three-acre park is expected to lose about one acre when the library is rebuilt, a project scheduled to begin in October. Plans by the library project's developers, Grimm and Parker architects, include adding an outdoor amphitheater to the park.

While no definite link between the three fires has been established, investigators are seeing similarities between the Discovery Community Park fire and the Emancipation Park fire, Piringer said. Both received significant damage, were set in the afternoon and resulted in the melted plastic and rubber ground coverings.

"But we do believe all three (fires) were set," Piringer said.

Piringer said investigators are also looking into available surveillance video and if there were any witnesses who could provide information.

Laurel Police have beefed up their patrols of all the city parks, and Public Works and Parks and Recreation employees have been instructed to "keep an eye out, too," Piringer said.

And with reward money being offered, residents are encouraged to also keep an eye out.