UPDATE: Two boys identified as playground arson suspects

image courtesy Stacy Johnson
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska Update Wednesday, July 18:
Anchorage Police say two boys have been identified as responsible for the arson at Mountain View Elementary School. The case will be handled in the juvenile justice department for review, APD says.

UPDATE Tuesday, July 10 8:45 p.m.:

Anchorage School District officials say the fire damage to the Mountain View Elementary School playground is estimated at $100,000.

ASD spokesperson Catherine Esary said in a statement "We need the community's help in keeping our playgrounds safe and secure. This is taxpayer money that's going to waste, and it rattles members of our community."

Esary said ASD will work with APD to try to find those responsible for the fire, and she asked that anyone with information call police.

Darin Hargraves, Senior Director of Maintenance & Operations for ASD told Channel 2 "We are going have to shut this area down and make it inaccessible to the kids at the moment. The other thing about this is that it takes time to get this apparatus up here. It may be that we can't get this in before the snow falls, which means that this school won't have a playground this year."

Original Story

A fire at the Mountain View Elementary School Playground sent thick, black smoke into the sky Tuesday evening.

The Anchorage Fire Department said it received calls about the fire around 7:12 p.m. and the fire was put out about 20 minutes later.

Video posted on social media showed police and fire department emergency units responding to the school.

The smoke was visible from miles away and could be seen from the KTUU studios in midtown.

The cause of the fire has not been released, but a woman who lives across the street from the school told Channel 2 News she saw a group of young people wearing backpacks walking through the area just minutes before the fire started.

APD spokesperson Renee Oistad said no arrests have been made.

Catherine Esary, spokesperson for the Anchorage School District, said police had notified ASD about the fire, and that school district Operations & Maintenance Dept. crews were on-scene assessing the extent of the damage.

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