Playground equipment smolders after it was set on fire in Lacasse Park in Tecumseh, October 10, 2017. (Photo by Mark Brown, BlackburnNews.com)

‘He Really Is Remorseful,’ Boy Apologizes For Playground Fire

A 13-year-old boy, charged with setting a fire at a Tecumseh playground, has apologized.

The boy, who can not be named under the Youth Offender Act, was charged with arson last October after a fire at LaCasse Park caused $800,000 damage.

Estimates released by the OPP last fall said damage was half that, but the Essex County Youth Diversion Program quoted the full cost to the Town of Tecumseh.

As part of the program’s requirements, the boy is taking responsibility for his actions and acting to repair the harm done.

Executive Director Joanne Conrad says letters like this are not usual for children referred to the program, but because of the outrage in the community, she felt it was important to share it publicly.

“We haven’t had a case that attracted this much community attention, and one that we felt would really benefit from an open apology letter,” she says. “This is the first time that we’ve really done this, but most of our kids that come through are required to write an apology letter.”

In the letter, the boy admits to taking paper and gasoline in a water bottle to the park, and says “I thought it as going to be a small fire and we could have a little fun, but obviously that didn’t happen.” It continues to say he understands that children can no longer use the equipment and that the reputation of the town has suffered. “I have learned to always think twice about something before you do it, and think about all the outcomes of what could happen. I have also started helping my family more and we have made our home fire safe. I would like to thank everyone who reads this and can understand how sorry I am.”

The boy had completed a fire safety program of his own accord.

Conrad says the boy also met with officials from the town and offered to use money he had saved from his birthday to help pay for damages. That was declined, but the program says the offer made a favourable impression on Tecumseh officials.

The boy says he hopes to join Tecumseh’s youth council.