Copyright 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
A playground fire at Chaparral Elementary School is being investigated as arson by Albuquerque Fire Rescue.
John DuFay, Albuquerque Public Schools executive director of operations, told the Journal that the fire — which took place early Saturday — is estimated to cost anywhere from $55,000 to $80,000, depending on the salvageable substructure.
"Thanks to (AFR) it wasn't as bad as it could've been," said DuFay. "We would've lost the entire playground."
He said the investigation is underway for the West Side elementary school located at 6325 Milne Road NW.
There were security cameras at the Title I school — meaning it has a high percentage of children from low-income families — but the footage didn't provide many details.
"They didn't show a whole lot" said DuFay about the cameras, adding the damage took place in darker areas and was set at about 1 a.m. Saturday.
About 50 percent of the playground, which had some pieces designed for students using special needs services, is not in use currently.
As students went back to school Monday, they were still be able to use parts of the play area that weren't affected by the blaze while the rest was fenced off, DuFay said.
Replacing the damaged playground equipment is expected to take approximately six weeks.
The executive director has been with the school district for 31 years and while he has seen fires started at schools before, the Chaparral fire was bigger than previous incidents.
"This was a pretty big one," he said. "It's a higher cost than what the others have been."
The up to $80,000 will come out of APS' operational funds as the school is self-insured.
"It's horrible," he emphasized about the fire. "Kids lose out."
The school facility was not damaged during the fire and no students nor faculty were on school grounds when it occurred.
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