Juvenile, 14, charged with first-degree arson in park fire

Arraignment set in January

PORT ANGELES — A 14-year-old boy arrested last week in connection with the early morning fire Dec. 20 at the Generation II Dream Playground was charged Tuesday afternoon in Clallam County Juvenile and Family Court with first-degree arson, making a false statement to a public servant and resisting arrest.

He is scheduled for arraignment at 9 a.m. Jan. 4.

First-degree arson is a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison and/or a $50,000 fine. The standard sentencing range is 21 to 27 months.

The other two charges are misdemeanors, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Under state law (RCW 9A.48.020), a person is guilty of first-degree arson under four conditions, one of which is he or she “knowingly and maliciously causes a fire or explosion which is manifestly dangerous to any human life, including firefighters.”

An unidentified firefighter was treated and discharged from Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles as a result of the fire.

The fire, reported at 3:44 a.m. Dec. 20, shot flames as high as the evergreens, estimated at 60 feet tall, around the playground at Erickson Playfield at 302 S. Race St. in Port Angeles.

The ferocity of the fire melted a nearby overhead light, as well as parts of an adjacent swing set, and much of the artificial play surface was charred and blackened. The smell of burned materials permeated the park and the sidewalk along Race Street on Wednesday.

The fire melted most of the nearly $118,000 worth of playground equipment the city purchased for the second-generation playground, which was built by volunteers in 2021.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at brian.gawley@peninsuladailynews.com.

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