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Mystery Fire Destroys Jungle Gym

Alexandria Fire Department units responded to a blaze late Monday afternoon in Powhatan Park that destroyed a $40,000 piece of playground equipment.

When the units arrived at the small neighborhood play area, located just off Route 1 near the Monroe Street Bridge, they found the large plastic jungle gym fully engulfed in flames, according to Jane Malik, public information officer.

Black smoke billowing into the air was visible as far away as the District Columbia and Landmark Mall. "Numerous calls were received by the department inquiring as to the cause of the smoke," said Malik.

Personnel from Alexandria's Department of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Activities were also notified and responded to the scene. They estimated the value of the large piece of climbing equipment and determined it was a total loss.

Based on an origin and cause investigation, the fire was determined to have started at the top of the playground apparatus on the side facing Route 1. No signs of accelerant were found, however, "other evidence was discovered at the scene," according to the fire inspectors. They would not divulge what that was due to the ongoing investigation.

The actual cause had not been determined by late Tuesday afternoon following removal of the damaged equipment from the site by city maintenance crews. The investigation remains open as evidence is processed, Fire Department officials confirmed. There were no injuries reported.