MILLINOCKET, Maine – The July 9 fire that burned much of the town’ s volunteer-funded creative playground was an arson that did more than $43,000 in damage, town officials said Tuesday.
Police have a juvenile suspect that they believe used an accelerant to set the fire, but Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said he didn’ t know whether charges had been filed or the suspect had been referred to juvenile court.
Police Chief Donald Bolduc and Detective Ron McCarthy, the case’ s investigating officer, did not immediately return telephone messages seeking comment on Tuesday. Sgt. Timothy York of the Maine State Fire Marshal’ s Office confirmed that the fire was an arson and referred further comment to police.
Town Recreation Department Director Frank Clukey is working with Millinocket Insurance Co. adjusters to reach a final settlement, Conlogue said. The company provides the town’ s insurance, which apparently covered the fire.
“We are waiting for a final set of figures and what they [the insurance company] are going to approve,” Conlogue said Tuesday.
If all goes well, the Town Council will have several choices on Thursday regarding how to rebuild the park. The park’ s equipment supplier can have replacement equipment installed within six weeks of its being ordered, Conlogue and Clukey said.
Located at the town recreation center at Stearns High School, Katahdin Pride Park was severely damaged. The fire consumed a 70-foot strip of rubber matting made from recycled tires as it burned a rock climbing wall, slide, miniature plastic firetruck and several swings.
The Providing Area Recreation for Kids committee raised about $96,000 through fundraisers, grants and a town loan. Started in 2004 and largely finished by 2006 — although a picket fence still needed to be installed around it — the park was a symbol of Millinocket unity.
Damaged equipment was hauled away that day, and the park reopened late Monday afternoon, Clukey said.
The park is covered by town insurance, minus the $1,000 deductible. The council will decide how to rebuild the park. All of the park’ s rubber matting can be replaced with more such matting for about $23,000. Another option: To pay for soft wood chips and wood fiber for $10,600, Clukey said.