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Arson Squad Investigating Fire That Damaged Long Island Playground

LAKE GROVE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- On Long Island, residents are outraged at whoever set fire to an elementary school playground.

Behind the Eugene Auer Elementary School, empty soccer fields signal summer break, but Suffolk County Police suspect that on Sunday night vandals were busy setting fire to the recently rebuilt playground, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported.

Police tape now circles the charred slides, leaving 8-year-old Anthony Ferrara upset that he can't play there.

"They burned it and it's not nice, not fair to the kids that want to play on the playground," he said.

Firefighters at the nearby Centereach Fire Department said the arson squad is investigating.

Parents suspect it was likely teens hanging around the playground who are responsible.

"I think it's a shame that kids have nothing better to do than go light fires," said Joy Romeo.

Romeo is angry since the local community raised $20,000 for a complete renovation of the playground.

"I know it took the community a lot of fundraising to get that playground. I don't know if it's covered under insurance or if we're going to do another fundraiser," she said.

Several PTA members told Carlin they hope insurance will cover replacing the playground, which will have to be torn down because of structural damage.

"Where are they getting the stuff to light the fire? It's not just a match that will do that," said Romeo.

Neighbor Jackie Collier said if it is vandalism, she hopes those responsible will come clean and admit what they've done.

"I hope the people responsible are caught and find it within themselves to take a lead on that, and rebuild what they destroyed," she said.

The nearby soccer field was not damaged, and so night and weekend games for hundreds of young soccer players will go on as planned.

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