Update, July 29: Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier is seeking donations to help replace playground equipment damaged by the fire.
The playground will cost $150,000 to $200,000 to replace, spokeswoman Brenda Bohn said Wednesday, July 29.
Donations can be made at boysgirlsclubs.com/donate.
“Unfortunately, we have learned that insurance is only going to cover a fraction of the replacement cost,” Bohn said.
“During these challenging times, your support means more than ever,” the nonprofit organization said in an email.
For more information, contact Joyce Wilson, chief development officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-532-8102 ext. 305.
Previous article: Arson was the cause of a playground fire Saturday, July 25, at Boys & Girls Clubs of Lanier, according to authorities.
A $10,000 reward leading to an arrest and conviction has been offered in the case, which is being investigated by the Gainesville Fire Marshal’s office, according to a news release Monday, July 27.
Firefighters received a call at about 6:45 a.m. Saturday concerning a fire alarm at the Boys & Girls Clubs at 1 Positive Place.
Upon arrival, personnel put out the playground fire and discovered that smoke from the blaze had set off the fire alarm inside the building. Crews checked the building and found no problems inside the structure.
“The playground equipment did have significant damage,” the news release says.
Gainesville Fire Division Chief Keith Smith said he couldn’t comment on why officials believe the case was arson until the investigation is complete.
“They are still working on some things related to the incident,” he said.
Steven Mickens, chief executive officer for Boys & Girls Clubs, said building video cameras captured “some young men on the jungle gym, and it looked like they were smoking because you could see something lit.”
“One of them tried to put the cigarette out and noticed it wasn’t completely out in the wood chips (ground covering). He went back and it looked like he tried to put it out, but then they went about their way.”
Later, the video showed “sparks of flame coming up in that area, and the next thing you know, everything was engulfed in flames,” Mickens said.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact the Gainesville Fire Marshal’s office at 770-594-3612 or the Georgia Arson Control hotline at 1-800-282-5804.
“It was pretty scary for us,” he said. “(The playground) is close to our building, but more importantly, there are trees right behind the jungle gym … and that really could have sparked a huge fire.”
The Boys & Girls Clubs “is more than likely going to have to replace the jungle gym because a significant amount of damage was done,” Mickens.
As for replacement cost, that’s not certain. The jungle gym dates to 2006 or 2007 and might have cost between $25,000 and $35,000 back then, Mickens said.
“We do have insurance coverage and we’ve contacted our broker to put in a claim,” he said.
The reward is being offered by Georgia Arson Control, a nonprofit organization based out of Suwanee.