KCUR News
5:19 pm
Thu July 7, 2011

Playground Fire Setters Sought

Overland Park, KS – An investigator with a history of handling high profile arson cases is convinced detectives will find whoever set fires outside three Johnson County schools in less than a week. And the profile points to a young person or more than one.

Fires set to three state of the art playgrounds were costly to the Blue Valley School District. Only one estimate is available, $75 thousand at Liberty View Elementary in Olathe. The others were Morse and Cedar Hills Elementary in Overland Park.

A former President of the International Association of Arson Investigators, Michael Schlatman says they were likely set by a child between ages of 7 and 13, possibly as old as 17. Out of control ground fireworks are a possibility, he says.

Schlatman says police protocols for arrests are consistently successful. And the harm is larger than most would think. He puts it this way,"The school loses a large amount of equipment , very valuable equipment. And as you know, school funding is being cut. And expenditures of that magnitude are very difficult to make now."

Schlatman heads Overland Park based 'Fire Consulting and Case Review International' and says the child-safe playground equipment isn't easily ignited.

Kristi Mcnerlin of Blue Valley Schools says the equipment is used by a lot of children, and hopes it can be replaced by Fall.