Saturday, March 23, at approximately 5:30 pm, a huge fire was reported at the Gladstone Elementary School playground at 335 N. Elmwood. Neighbor Hazel Jones reported hearing a loud “woosh” then seeing a large plume of smoke, “like a mushroom cloud” rising up from the playground area on the Southwest corner of the school grounds. 

This is the second time the playground equipment has been torched by vandals in as many years. The Fire Department responded and brought the blaze under control quickly but not before the entire play structure was reduced to melted plastic and soot covered metal ladders and steps that rested on the smoldering, rubberized mulch. 

Photo by Dorri Partain

Jones reported that the fire reignited about an hour later and a KCPD officer who was on the scene notified the Fire Department, which returned and gave the entire area a good soaking to insure there would be no reignition. 

The playground equipment was donated by a benefactor and installed in October 2021. The climbing structure targeted was on the south side of the school and designated for students Kindergarten through Second Grade. A playground on the north side for older students was not affected.

The fire remains under investigation.

To read about the donated playground installed in October 2021, Check out the link below