Breen Park playground set on fire

By: Lauren Weber, The Placer Herald
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Rocklin’s Breen Park was set on fire over the weekend, leaving the small children’s playground melted, blackened and unusable. Fences blocked off the remains of the play area – the bright yellow slide melted, the stairs leading up to the slide charcoaled and the wood beams holding some of the play equipment together burned. Leaves on some of the trees lining the playground were black and singed and the smell of smoke filled the air days after the incident. According to Rocklin Fire Department Battalion Chief Kurt Snyder, a standard 911 call came in at 3:40 a.m. Sept. 5. The cause of the fire is “still under investigation, but it is suspicious,” Snyder said. The parks’ damage is estimated to cost between $30,000 to $40,000, Snyder said. Rocklin resident and a neighbor of Breen Park Cheryl O’Donnell saw the damage of the park firsthand Tuesday afternoon when she brought her children to play. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to enjoy the slide, hang on the bars or run around the playground. “My little girl was crying, it’s awful,” O’Donnell said. During the week, she brings her kids to the park to play after they’ve dropped off her other child at Breen Elementary School, and said it makes her children happy coming to the park. “I’ve been here 10 years and we’ve enjoyed this park so much,” O’Donnell said. “It makes me cry. We moved here because of this park – it’s heartbreaking.” Breen Park off Shelton Street and Swindon Road, has been the target of a number of vandalism acts recently including about a month ago when vandals left their mark with black writing along the slides, poles and park sign. O’Donnell said that a neighborhood watch meeting was held recently to discuss issues like the recent string of vandalism. “I didn’t expect to see something else, I thought it was over,” she said. Bill Whitney, a Rocklin resident who also lives in the Breen Park neighborhood, said he walks to the park daily with his dog and has seen the park hit hard with vandals. “It’s been hit with so many vandalism acts, it’s hard to keep track,” Whitney said. Over the weekend, he said he smelled the scent of burning plastic and came to find the park burned. Although it’s unknown whether the vandalism acts are intertwined, Whitney said he hopes whoever is responsible, is punished for the destruction. “The kids are the ones that suffer,” O’Donnell said. If you have information regarding the fire, contact the Rocklin Police Department at 625-5400. Lauren Weber can be reached at