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Number of intentionally-set Laurel playground fires hits 3

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Local,Maryland,Crime,Naomi Jagoda

Three Laurel playground fires in the past two weeks are believed to have been intentionally set, and authorities are looking to see whether they are related.

The most recent incident took place at about 4:30 p.m. Monday at Emancipation Community Park. No one was injured in the blaze, but damage has been estimated at $80,000 to $100,000, according to Laurel spokesman Pete Piringer.

Another of the fires took place on March 3 at about 4:30 p.m. at Discovery Community Park and resulted in one major portion of the playground being destroyed. Damage from that fire was estimated at more than $100,000.

"There are a lot of similarities between these two," Piringer said. He said that the fires were set in a similar manner, though he didn't know exactly how they started.

The third playground arson took place Friday evening at Granville Gude Park. Two teens were seen attempting to start a fire on equipment and fled, but officers were able to apprehend them. The teens were charged with arson-related offenses and then released to the custody of their parents, Piringer said.

Damage to the playground in that incident was minimal.

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and/or a conviction in the cases. Anyone with information can call the Laurel police tip line at 301-498-7645.

njagoda@washingtonexaminer.com

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