EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 5, 2012

Reward offered for info on playground fire

By Doug Ireland direland@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — SALEM — More than a month after a fire heavily damaged the Haigh School playground, a $1,000 reward is being offered to help solve the crime.

Flames engulfed part of the playground Aug. 24, leaving a pile of charred wood. Firefighters responded to a 911 call about 9 p.m. for a possible fire at the elementary school.

“It was fully involved when we arrived,” fire Capt. John Brackett said. “We got it out in about 20 minutes, but it was a total loss.”

The playground, about 15 years old, had only been refinished a year ago, he said.

The playground equipment received thousands of dollars in damage and cannot be used, prompting students at the School Street school to help raise money for new equipment.

One student, second-grader Cheyenne Barrett, and her classmates helped raise more than $1,300 for the playground by selling lemonade.

“Her first thought after I told her about the fire was that she wanted to help,” said her mother, Rachel Barrett. “There has been a lot of awareness and money raised since, which is nice.

Cheyenne raised a couple of hundred dollars during her first sale, Barrett said. Then, the young girl and her friends and parents raised nearly $1,200 more for the playground.

Although the School Board has considered closing Haigh, Barrett said shuttering the school would be a tremendous loss to the community.

“We love the little school,” she said. “Cheyenne loves her school.”

Salem Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said yesterday his department is continuing to investigate the arson.

To help solve the case, Crimeline of Southern New Hampshire has offered a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and successful prosecution of anyone who may have started the fire, he said.

Tipsters, who will remain anonymous, should call Crimeline at 893-6600.