A playground in Germantown was burned on Wednesday night, and investigators suspect arson. (Courtesy of Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service)

A Germantown playground was heavily damaged on Wednesday night, in what the Montgomery County fire department suspects is an act of arson.

Neighbors called just before 9 p.m. to report that the playground was on fire, county fire department spokesman Pete Piringer said. When firefighters arrived, they found thick black smoke and “pretty impressive flames.”

The rubberized playing surface, slides, and climbing bars were destroyed, Piringer said. He said that the playground cost about $150,000 to build originally, and replacing the ruined equipment will cost more than $100,000.

The playground is adjacent to Sally Ride Elementary School and to North Germantown Greenway Stream Valley Park, but Piringer said it is not county-owned. It is operated by the local homeowners’ association, he said. The homeowners’ association board did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Piringer said that the fire department knows of one witness and is looking for others who may have seen a suspected arsonist. Witnesses can call the county’s arson tip line at 240-777-2263.

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