The Elijah Smith Elementary School’s playground is a little bit quieter this week.
The popular, tire swing is gone.
On Friday morning, principal John Wright arrived to find its remains smoldering.
“What alarmed me is that you can only burn a tire using an accelerant,” he said.
“You can’t burn it using just matches.”
That day, one of the young students came to Wright with the small yellow cap from a gas can.
“The kids are upset about this,” said Wright.
Walking through the forest that skirts the school, he found several trees had been torched.
“I’m guessing they splashed accelerant or gas on those too,” he said.
There is a well-used trail through this forested area, connecting Granger to Hillcrest.
And around 8 p.m. Friday night, Judith Steele was standing in her Hillcrest yard when she heard a loud swooshing sound.
Describing an “explosion,” she turned around and saw a tree burst into flames.
“I could hear the kids,” she said.
So, she and a neighbour ran over to investigate.
“They’d poured paint thinner all over the tree,” said Steele, who helped douse water on it to put it out.
“It was disconcerting,” she said.
“Especially because I didn’t really know if it would keep burning overnight.
“It was too close for comfort.”
“We are so vulnerable to fire up here,” said Wright.
“I’d hate to see something bad happen.”
Wright is also concerned for the safety of the kids involved.
“If you’re playing with gas and matches, it doesn’t take long for something to happen,” he said.
This past weekend, several vehicles were rifled through in Hillcrest, added Steele.
And money was stolen from some of them, she said.
But the crime spree doesn’t stop there.
When Nlaye Ndasadaye Day Care director Miranda Colbert arrived at work Monday morning, she discovered that two of their tricycles had been stolen.
When the kids, who are 18 months to three years, asked to use them, it was discovered they were gone, she said.
“And they would have had to scale a six-foot fence to steal the tricycles,” said Colbert.
That day, Colbert found one of the tricycles on a road in Arkell.
“So, I stole it back,” she said.
The daycare can’t afford to replace the other tricycle, and is hoping someone will return it.
And, on Tuesday morning, several cars in the Logan subdivision were rifled through as well.
Replacing the tire swing at Elijah Smith is also a big expense, said Wright, who hopes to get a truck tire donated.
“The most positive explanation is that it’s just kids daring each other to do things for pranks and thrills,” he said.
“It’s more worrisome if it’s pure vandalism for the sake of destruction, because where the hell does that go?”