AMHERST – It’s not what Bev Sharpe wanted, or expected, to see when she looked out the back window of her Mechanic Street home in Springhill late Friday night.
The playground equipment that the neighbourhood and other Springhill residents had raised thousands for nearly 10 years ago was going up in flames.
“When I looked out all I could see what flames and I wondered what was burning,” said Sharpe, who was alerted to the blaze by telephone. “The flames were burning high into the air and the fire department was spraying foam on it.”
Sharpe said a neighbourhood group began raising money for the play structure a decade ago. She there were no playgrounds for children in her section of Springhill and she was terrified a child would eventually get struck playing on the street.
“This is something we did for the kids, to give them a place to play and get them off the street. When you used to drive up Mechanic Street there used to be all kinds of kids playing on the street,” she said. “Now it’s gone and it’s devastating. I never would have believed that someone would do something like that.”
Former Cumberland South MLA Murray Scott was part of the committee that raised more than $80,000 to build it.
“I really feel bad about that because it was a huge investment and so great for the kids in that part of town,” Scott said. “I’m hoping someone saw something and comes forward to the police or Crime Stoppers. That shouldn’t be. That’s a big loss for that part of the community.”
Scott said when he was a police officer he was afraid of an accident involving the children in that area.
“That playground was a Godsend,” Scott said. “I can’t understand why someone would do something like that.”
Kendall Spence from the Springhill Fire Department said the call came into the department just before midnight and firefighters were on the scene for approximately 45 minutes. He said the fire is under investigation and didn’t want to comment on how it started.
“I can’t comment on that at this time,” Spence said.
It’s not the first time the play structure has been vandalized. Several years ago, the rubber surface was cut.
Sharpe is hoping insurance money will cover the cost of repairing the damage.
The incident is being investigated by the Cumberland RCMP, which is asking the public for assistance located suspects who allegedly lit the fire.
“This playground was built by the community, for the community,” Const. Travise Dow said Sunday. “Such actions have an impact on the children who use it and the adults who worked hard to build it.
If anyone has information they can call the Springhill detachment at 902-597-3779.
Should you wish to remain anonymous call Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), submit a secure web tip at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca, or use the P3 Tips App.