Palmview’s all-inclusive playground a ‘total loss’ following intentional blaze

Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

PALMVIEW — City officials here stated Friday afternoon that their all-inclusive playground at the Showers Park is a “total loss” following an arson that occurred Thursday.

Police Chief Jose Trevino stated that police have identified two juvenile suspects and multiple “crucial” witnesses following their “swift” response to the many calls they were receiving from the community regarding smoke coming from the playground.

“At approximately 4:38 p.m., we received multiple 911 calls in regards to smoke and fire here at the Showers Park which is a city all-inclusive park,” Trevino said.

Palmview Police Chief Jose Trevino, seen with Chief of Staff Irma Garza, left, and City Attorney Eden Ramirez, Lisa Aguirre from the Hidalgo County Fire Marshal’s Office and Fire Chief Jerry Alaniz at a news conference at Showers Park on Friday, May 26, 2023. (Xavier Alvarez | The Monitor)

Trevino added that they’ve reached out to the Hidalgo County Fire Marshal who is now “spearheading” the investigation as an arson case.

Because the investigation is still in its early stages, Trevino wouldn’t answer questions regarding the suspects or about additional details, but stated that it’s moving quickly and is expecting updates to be available soon.

Slides and swings in the playground were practically non-existent following the fire. One could see the collapsed and warped walkways and the scorched trees nearby. Nearly the entirety of the canopies that once provided shade for the children were incinerated.

Palmview City Attorney Eden Ramirez stated that the city will seek to punish those involved in damaging city property and anyone who would commit similar crimes in the future.

“The city of Palmview will work aggressively to ensure that anyone who does commit destruction of property, whether it be public property or private property, that, where we can and where it permits, charges will be brought if we can to make sure there are consequences for this,” Ramirez said.

Fire damaged the swings at Showers Park on Friday, May 26, 2023. (Xavier Alvarez | The Monitor)

The city’s fire chief, Jerry Alaniz, reminded the public that the material used to make the playground is highly flammable, specifically the turf used.

Alaniz stated that the fire grew four times its size in a single minute, but due to the fire department responding quickly to a walk-in that brought the fire to their attention, they were able to control it within 10 minutes.

According to the city manager, Michael Leo, the park will be shut down until further notice stating that they’re working with the insurance company to work diligently on repairing the playground, but there’s no timeline yet.

“However, we want to remind the public that we will be putting out notices on social media and press releases because we are getting a lot of inquiries as to the status,” Leo said. “A lot of people were looking forward to utilizing this location this summer and it’s an unfortunate event.”