When a concerned resident living near Riverside Park went to bed Sunday night, she did not expect she'd be calling the police early in the morning. After seeing smoke billowing around the playground equipment, she said it was the only thing she could do.
Ron Merritt, Minot's director of parks, said the pictured park equipment is a total loss, more than $20,000 damage considering how much it will cost to completely replace it.
Both Merritt and the concerned resident made mention of how difficult it is to see yet another setback for this small, tucked away neighborhood on the bank of the river, still rebuilding after the 2011 flood, many yet living in FEMA trailers. "It's sad all around," said Merritt. It now becomes another step to climb on the ladder to recovery.
Jesse D. Watson/MDN
Not much remains of Riverside Park’s playground equipment after a fire.
The Minot Police department is investigating the possibility of arson but has "no clear suspects at this time," according to a press release.
Captain Miller of the Minot Fire Department said there is no logical explanation other than arson. "There's really nothing in the area that could ignite a fire." It was a damp, foggy night and morning as well.
The neighborhood near Riverside Park has seen more changes than just the flood and the fire recently. Traffic has increased, and denizens are still trickling slowly back into the area. "It'll be awhile until it's anything like it used to be, but I'm not leaving here or leaving Minot," said the concerned resident. "The kids need something to play on," she continued. "The swings are not (suited) for small children."
The damage has left a quiet hole in the fabric of the community, another patch to mend.
The equipment, still smelling of burnt plastic, is now fenced off, but Riverside Park remains a beautiful, secluded place despite the fire.