Teens allegedly set Greenville Elementary School playground equipment on fire

GREENVILLE, Ky. (WBKO) -- Over Sunday night in Muhlenberg County, Greenville Police and Fire responded to a playground up in flames.

Greenville Police say three teenagers have been charged in the incident.

On Monday, the playground was noticeably empty, as Greenville Elementary School students were kept off of the grounds for at least that day, with no recess. School officials worked on surveying and estimating the damage.

A piece of equipment that was hit in particular was -- a spiral slide, now completely gone, along with damage to a draw bridge and another slide.

"Believe what happened was, juveniles used some fingernail polish remover, poured it on the equipment and set it on fire with a cigarette lighter," said Wes Miller, the public information officer for Greenville Police.

Those teens were in the early morning hours, and were all charged with criminal mischief, first degree, which police say is considered a felony offense.

"I don't know if kids are bored and looking for something to do -- I'm not really sure how they get ideas like this," Miller said.

One of the teens was also charged with possession of marijuana. The juveniles have been released back to their parents.

"I was very surprised when I received the call -- definitely not the call that I expect to get in the middle of the night," said Stacie Jones, the principal of Greenville Elementary School.

"We were just very fortunate that our local first responders responded as quickly as they did, because as you can tell, this could have been a lot worse than it was," she said.

Though no timing is good for these things, with things definitely getting warmer, it could seem like it's the worst time of the year to happen.

"The students are ready to be outside to play and enjoy the playground that they have," Jones said.

Community members have called the damage to the jungle gym appalling, but the event can also demonstrate a community's ability to roll with the punches.

After hearing about the fire, the owner of a dance studio in Greenville came to the school to offer to get some of the kids into other outdoor activities.

"Well it's upsetting. But we try not to have the kids' whole lives disrupted by just a senseless act like that," said Melanie Boggess, owner of Encore Dance Studio. "So I just came to exercise with the kids today, get them a little fresh air -- they're probably upset like the parents are."

"This is just a great example of our wonderful community's support," Jones said.

It's hoped that recess can soon resume for the school after debris has been cleaned up and the grounds determined to be safe, although it will have to be without half of their playground equipment.

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