Local News

Sports Uniforms, Equipment Destroyed In Suspected Arson Case

Posted July 13, 2005 4:36 a.m. EDT

— Cumberland County arson investigators think someone tried to burn down a storage shed near Brentwood Elementary School, where the parks and recreation department keeps athletic uniforms and sports equipment for children, as well as computer and radio equipment.

Investigators said they found an empty Crisco container outside the storage shed that smelled like gasoline.

The site is run by Southwest Athletic Association, a volunteer group that runs sports leagues for children ages 5 to 17 years old. About 1,600 children sign up for sports each year through the association, which provides uniforms and sports equipment for them.

"At first when I walked up, all I saw was uniforms that would never be used again and a computer that's melted, a desk that's burned," said Iverson Smith, a league organizer. "I got sick to my stomach, tell you the truth about it."

Southwest said it had taken 10 years to build up the collection that was destroyed by the fire.

With the fall sports season approaching, Southwest said it does not have the money or enough time to replace the damaged items.

"There's going to be a lot of children whose parents probably can't afford to outfit them in the pads and the helmets," said Mark Rasdall, whose son, Brandon, plays football for a sports league. "So they're not going to have the opportunity to play this year."

Still, Smith refuses to let down the children.

"It's going to be bigger and better than ever," he said. "That's my promise."