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Damage from Joppatowne playground fire estimated at $40,000, county says

A spokesperson for Harford County government says it will cost an estimated $40,000 to replace play equipment damaged by an arson fire at a small Joppatowne playground on Wednesday.

"We don't have a timeline on that, but we do intend to replace it," county administration spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Friday.

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Two sisters, ages 12 and 13, are facing arson related charges in connection with the fire at the playground in the 200 block of Chell Road, according to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Fire investigators initially released an estimate of $1,000 damage or loss from the fire, but that figure is incorrect, Mumby said.

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"The equipment is about 20 years old, we estimate that to replace it today will cost about $40,000," she said. Fire investigators said earlier that the equipment is a total loss.

"We want the community to know we do intend to replace the equipment, but we do have to work through a process," Mumby said, a process that involves insurance claims and the county's procurement process.

Firefighters from Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company were initially dispatched for a field fire shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday and, upon their arrival, discovered the fire involved playground equipment, according to a Fire Marshal's Office news release.

Investigators were contacted by the juvenile girls' parents who believed their daughters were possibly involved, the Fire Marshal's Office said.

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The sisters admitted they were at the playground prior to the fire and had set a notebook on fire on or near the sliding board and left the area, the Fire Marshal's Office said. No injuries were reported

The sisters have been charged with first-degree malicious burning and were released to the custody of their parents, the Fire Marshal's Office said. The case has been forwarded to the Department of Juvenile Services.

The small playground is located to the rear of homes on Chell and Joppa Farm roads and is owned by the Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation.

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