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Richmond school leaders investigating rubber surfaces from playground fires

RICHMOND, Va. — Teonna Tarry’s niece and nephew used to enjoy their time at the playground behind Fairfield Elementary School in Richmond.

Now, she said they’ve had to find another place to play since someone set the playground on fire last week.

“It’s just tragic,” said Tarry. “Kids like to have fun and they want to have a place to play.”

Richmond School Board Member, Kim Gray said this is the ninth playground burned by an arsonist in less than two years.

As police search for the culprit, Gray said there’s another concern with the rubber surfaces beneath the playground equipment. She said school leaders have now requested an investigation of the material.

“We’ve sent samples of the surface off to labs for evaluation to find out if that’s whats exactly causing them to ignite so vigorously,” said Gray.

Gray said several of the reports have blamed the surface on the intensity of the fires.

“We want to make sure that those rubberized surfaces are flame retardant as the manufacturers have claimed,” she said.

Gray said they expect to have the results back within the next month of two.

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