Fire marshal: Youths confess to Twin Lakes playground fire

Firefighters spray down a fire on Monday, April 24, 2017, at the playground near Twin Lakes. (Photo by Kelli Burkinshaw/KTOO)

The two teenagers arrested for setting the Twin Lakes playground on fire Monday have confessed, and Juneau’s fire marshal has completed his investigation.

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Capital City Fire/Rescue Fire Marshal Dan Jager said the two teenagers admitted they started the fire with no clear motive.

“They admitted as to how they did that,” Jager said. “Because they are juveniles and it’s still an open case, I’m not allowed to comment on that.”

Jager also noted no accelerants — such as gasoline — were used.

“The material on the playground itself, basically being shredded tires, that in itself is a fuel,” Jager said. “Between the wind and the fact you had basically the tire material burning, that, once it burns it turns into a liquid, so it’s kind of a petroleum product at that point. That’s really what caused the fire to intensify and spread across the playground as it did.”

The many photos of the early stages of the fire shared through social media were critical in the investigation, Jager said. The images helped narrow down where the fire began and how it spread.

Jager recommends using different materials if the playground is rebuilt.

“Granted, it’s not as soft or easy to land on, but gravel doesn’t burn,” he said. “At least not that easily. Sand, gravel, things like that, stuff that’s noncombustible is the recommendation.”

The Juneau Community Foundation is accepting donations to rebuild the playground.

This story contained work from both Jeremy Hsieh and Jacob Resneck.

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Jacob Resneck is CoastAlaska's regional news director in Juneau.
Jeremy Hsieh is the deputy managing editor of the KTOO newsroom in Juneau. He’s a podcast fiend who’s worked in journalism since high school as a reporter, editor and television producer. He ran Gavel Alaska for 360 North from 2011 to 2016, and is big on experimenting with novel tools and mediums (including the occasional animated gif) to tell stories and demystify the news. Jeremy’s an East Coast transplant who moved to Juneau in 2008.

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