Winfield residents are outraged after a playground in town burned to the ground for the second time. Fire investigators say the fire at Island Park is suspicious, but they have no suspects at this time.
"I hope they catch that feller. I hope they catch him. And see, the last time this happened, they only gave the guy like a fine and a slap on the wrist. I really hope they throw the book at the guy this time," said resident Eric Blakeley.
Residents of Winfield are calling it a crime against their children.
Twenty-five fire crews and nine apparatus from Winfield, Atlanta, Arkansas City, Burden and Udall had the fire under control nearly three hours later. Investigators have not released a cause to the fire.
Winfield fire crews arrived on scene shortly after 10 p.m. Thursday to see the Island Park playground fully engulfed in flames. Viewers called into the Eyewitness Newsroom saying they could see flames going dozens of feet into the air from two miles away.
The mood in town was very somber Friday. Everyone was upset, some people even giving in to tears when they saw the damage. And there was a lot of anger, too.
While the fire department has only declared this suspicious, residents are certain it was deliberate.
"It's a crime against the community. It's a crime against our children," said Sherry Bodkins.
They came in twos and threes, by foot and in cars, and they all had the same thought.
"It was a beautiful playground, it really was," mourned Eric Blakely, who was back Friday morning to see the damage by daylight after watching the fire burn Thursday night.
"It's just pretty sad," said Madison Platter, who'd brought her daughters to see the damage.
"It's angering. It's upsetting. It's sickening. It's heartbreaking, heartbreaking," said Bodkins.
Someone even put out sign at the edge of the bridge leading to the playground, begging the monsters many believe are behind the fire to go away.
Many who came out to see the damage had helped raise funds to rebuild the playground on Island Park after it burned down five years ago.
"I helped rebuild it after the first fire and it's pretty sad to see it go up in smoke again," said Matthew Bidwell.
That included some of the youngest members of the community, like Isaac Swanson who emptied his piggy bank to help out. He took pride in knowing his name was on one of the fence posts surrounding the playground.
"Yes, that got burned up," said Rachel Swanson, his mother, because Isaac was too broken up to talk about it. "It was right out front."
Friday was a rough start to a long awaited spring break for many area children, like brooklyn platter who had plans for the park.