Two children suffered burn-like injuries after playing on playground slides that had been doused with acid.
On Sunday, police and firefighters in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, went to Bliss Park Playground after a suspicious substance was reported on its equipment. At the same time, the fire department said, emergency response teams went to a nearby home for a report of two kids injured after leaving the same park.
The children's mother told a local publication, Western Mass News, she assumed the liquid pooled at the bottom of the park's slides was rainwater when they arrived that morning.
"I didn't really think much of it, and then, my baby, who is one, just started crying," Ashley Thielen said."That was when I knew this liquid that they were around wasn't water."
Investigators at the park determined someone had broken into a storage room where pool chemicals were "stored properly in a secured area." One chemical was muriatic acid, the Hazmat team said, and it was found poured on three of the playground's slides.
The perpetrators had climbed two fences to reach a ventilation shaft, which had a torn-off cover. Then they used the shaft to access the storage room, exerting a "great deal of effort" to enter the space, the fire department said.
Police gathered evidence and sent it to a crime lab for forensic analysis and fingerprinting, but officials are still asking for the public's help in finding the suspects. They asked anyone to come forward if they saw any suspicious activity at the park Saturday night or if they have seen anyone with new burns.
"We suspect that the perpetrators may have suffered acid burns to their hands or arms and their clothing may have indications of being degraded from contact with the acid," the Longmeadow Fire Department said.
As for the kids, their wounds are mostly superficial, with some swelling and blistering. But Thielen said it could have been a closer call.
"The bottom of the slide, where it was, there was a good amount of it collected there. I was surprised he didn't start splashing in it," she said.
The playground is still fenced off as officials determine the safety and cleanliness of the space, though all hazardous materials have been cleaned and removed.
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