Fire shines spotlight on mischief at a Clovis park

CLOVIS, Calif.

The fire broke out Monday evening at a park at Stanford and Cromwell. It destroyed half of the park's playground equipment, at an estimated cost of $60,000. The cause is under investigation.

Now, the fire has the neighborhood talking, not just about what happened Monday -- but what's been going on for months. "It gets really dark at night and there's all kinds of shady things happening in the park," said neighbor Les Nunes.

Neighbors said several lights around the park have been dark since early spring when thieves stole copper wire. "I know we have a fear of going into the park because you don't know what to expect because it's so dark," said neighbor Valerie Lopes.

Lopes lives right across the street from the park is a mom to seven girls. Lopes says she's witnessed drug deals and the problems aren't just at night. "You think during the daytime, it's a great place for the kids to play... but not even in the daytime now, you can't even trust that," said Lopes.

Lopes hopes somehow, talk about the playground fire will spark change or at least get the lights back on. Tuesday, the city's parks manager said copper wire theft is an ongoing problem. "We make repairs. And we keep trying to come up with vandal resistent boxes to lock up the lights, lock up the wire," said Eric Aller.

For now, the City of Clovis is focusing on getting the playground repaired. They said repairs could take three to five months. Clovis officials said PG&E is actually responsible for the lights along the street. They've been dark for so long, neighbors are considering putting up their own lights and pointing them toward the park.

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