Teen arrested after new Dallas playground destroyed by fire

Joquise King
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DALLAS – A teenager is under arrest and charged with third-degree felony of criminal mischief for his alleged role in setting fire to a playground.

Joaquise King, 18, was arrested and charged with criminal mischief.

Video of heavy smoke and fire burning a brand new playground is heartbreaking for an organization and volunteers who worked hard to get the playground ready for children this summer.

The fire happened outside Youth World on West Wheatland Road near South Polk Street.

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The jungle gym is a melted mess. The rock wall and sliding boards are burned. Singed metal stairs and poles are all that remain of Youth World’s playground.

It was destroyed by arsonists over the weekend, according to Youth World’s Executive Director Darla Shirley.

”You know, kids are going to be coming, 400 kids or so, coming this Monday," she said. "Ready to use this brand new playground... It’s not even here.”

Youth World is a non-profit that provides resources to hundreds of children across Southern Dallas. The playground was a recent gift from the Dallas Stars Foundation. It was a new feature hundreds of kids in Youth World’s Summer Camp were eager to enjoy.

”They depend on us,” Shirley said. “This is where they are coming to get their hot meal. This is where they are coming for refuge. This is their summer camp.”

Police say King and an 11-year-old scaled a fence and set the fire. The criminal mischief was allegedly caught on surveillance cameras at a nearby apartment complex.

Parents enrolling their children in the Youth World Summer Camp question what would make someone destroy part of the community.

”I think it’s programs like this that keep children from doing things like what’s happened," said Dora Williams.

The Youth World team says it's pushing past this setback and focusing on the positive, for now.

"We’re going to figure out some more plans,” Shirley said. "We’re going to go forward. We’re going to have the camp. It’s going to happen. We’ll work around this.”

A spokesman from Dallas Fire-Rescue says King is in jail. The investigation into the fire is ongoing.

Anyone interested in assisting Youth World can visit the program’s website here.