Three children are responsible for a fire that led to the destruction of nearly $300,000 worth of equipment at Westside Park, according to the Lakeland Fire Department.

  • 3 boys, between 8 and 12, lit pine straw on fire with lighter
  • No charges filed; no evidence of "willful and malicious" intent found

Investigators tracked down the suspects, three boys between the ages of 8 and 12.

Fire investigators say the fire was started by the boys who gathered pine straw, that is readily available at the park, underneath the playground equipment and lit the pine straw with a lighter.

When the fire burned out of control, investigators say the boys attempted to put the fire out with dirt and urine. When that didn’t work, they fled the scene.

Investigators say the events that took place and the equipment damaged do not meet the state of Florida's definition of Arson because there was no evidence of "willful and malicious" intent as defined by the statutes.

There are no plans currently to replace the playground equipment due to budget constraints. One playground area approximately 25 feet from the site of the fire is available for use.