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Vandals Burn Equipment
Riverbank has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of vandals who set fire to Zerillo Park playground equipment sometime around midnight on June 30.

The vandals have deprived all the residents of River Cove access to play areas for their children, City Manager Rich Holmer told members of the Riverbank City Council. The cost to replace the equipment exceeds $100,000, the largest loss the city has ever experienced at a park.

Holmer recently asked the council to post the reward "because of the brazen, sociopathic behavior of these criminals" and because arson is a felony.

Captain Mike Whorton of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department reported he and his crew were returning "from the hospital" after handling a different call about 12:23 a.m., when they noticed a huge column of smoke thought at first to be a structure fire but determined on arrival to be playground equipment burning at Briarcliff Drive and Turnberry Lane.

After extinguishing the fire, Whorton spoke to neighbors across the street but initial indications were that no one saw anything.

The equipment had severe fire damage throughout the park, with plastic slides and walkways melting to contribute to the wood chips underfoot catching fire.

Modesto Fire Department Investigator Doug Machado determined the fire was arson.