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.