Play area closed at Optimist Park after fire - KULR8.com | Montana's News Leader | Billings, MT

Play area closed at Optimist Park after fire

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BILLINGS, Mont. -

"It's just really depressing when you see vandalism," Michael Whitaker, the Billings Parks and Recreation director said.   

Caution tape, plastic fencing and warning signs section off a play area in optimist park after what Billings Police said is an arson case.

"A neighbor in the area had heard a pop and looked outside and observed some playground equipment on fire," Lt. Brian Korell with Billings Police said.  

Lt. Korell said Billings Police believe it's an arson case because playground equipment normally doesn't burn on its own.

Korell also said officers smelled gasoline.

Michael Whitaker said they can't replace all the damaged pieces because it would cost around $12,000 to $15,000.

So they will just have to salvage what's left.

"The playground will not have the same amount of play value but that's a direction we decided to go because it is an older playground," Whitaker said.

Whitaker said, although it is upsetting, he won't let the vandalism get to him.

"We're not going to let that stop us from providing quality parks in Billings."

Whitaker said he hopes to have the playground open within the next two weeks.

Billings Police said they still have not caught the person responsible

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