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baltimoresun.com

Police charge teen in Columbia playground fire

By Kellie Woodhouse, kwoodhouse@patuxent.com

2:10 PM EDT, July 22, 2011

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County police have charged a 15-year-old male from Laurel with setting fire to a Columbia playground last month that caused $40,000 in damage.

The playground, in the 9600 block of Clocktower Lane, in Kings Contrivance, was set on fire at approximately 1:10 p.m. on June 17. According to police, witnesses described seeing a group of young men in the area set a backpack on fire and place it on playground equipment.

A tip led police to arrest the teenager on Wednesday, July 20, and charge him with first- and second-degree malicious burning and first- and second-degree malicious destruction of property. He has been released to a parent's custody.

Police did not release the boy's name because he is being charged as a minor.

Police said they have identified other individuals they believe were present during the incident, but are not charging them.

"We don't believe that they were involved in setting the fire," said police spokeswoman Elizabeth Schroen.

Police are investigating whether the June 17 fire is related to an earlier fire at the same playground, which is located in Huntington Park and is owned by Howard County Recreation & Parks.