City vehicles, Little League equipment destroyed
Three Fruita city vehicles were damaged or destroyed early Monday, while a shed packed with youth baseball gear burned to the ground in acts of suspected arson at Little Salt Wash Park, Fruita police said.
The vandalism wave was one of two suspected this past weekend at the same location.
Police officers were called at 12:57 a.m. Monday on a report of a small shed on fire at the south end of the parking lot of the park, located at 1135 18 Road, Fruita Police Chief Mark Angelo said.
The shed — holding umpire gear, bases, chalking equipment, a pitching machine and baseballs owned by Fruita Little League — was a total loss, according to Little League director Tim Shive.
Shive said the Grand Junction Rockies baseball team had contacted organizers Monday morning offering to cover an unspecified amount of replacement cost.
Teams and coaches had been returning equipment ahead of the start of fall competition, Shive said. A monetary estimate of what was lost wasn’t available.
Shive said fall baseball will go on as scheduled for the roughly 450 kids who play in the league.
“It’s unfortunate somebody has to vandalize something that’s helpful to our community,” he said.
Officers were called back to the park, this time to the northeast corner, at 2:46 a.m. Monday when a reporting party called 911 upon hearing explosions, police said in a news release.
Two vehicles, both owned by the city of Fruita, were fully engulfed by fire. The vehicles were sitting in a fenced area on the northeast corner of the park. A third was also damaged.
The destruction followed a vandalism report Saturday morning involving damage to a pump house. Leaves and several branches were stripped from six trees and a trash can was also set on fire.
The damage was thought to have happened between 8 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday, police said in a release.
Fruita Parks and Recreation Director Ture Nycum said crews are still in the process of repairing damage caused to a shelter by another trash can fire, which happened roughly a month and a half ago at the park. The job was anticipated to cost about $9,000, he said.
A full damage estimate from the weekend — two of the three burned vehicles were total losses and eight trees valued at about $1,500 apiece were believed to be beyond repair — wasn’t immediately known, but it was anticipated the majority of costs would be covered by the city’s insurance company.
“Certainly this will affect what we can do in other parks,” Nycum said. “This takes away from us doing a lot of preventative maintenance stuff.”
Angelo said an investigation remains active.
Anyone with information on the cases is asked to call police at 858-3008, or Crime Stoppers of Mesa County, 241-STOP.