ANDERSON — A fire at a playground equipment manufacturer that caused nearly $1 million in damages has been ruled an arson, according to a fire investigator.

Anderson Fire Department investigator Jeff Freeman said Wednesday the May 6 fire at American Playground, 6406 Production Drive, was intentionally set, but Freeman released few other details because the investigation was ongoing.

“There are a lot of rumors flying around,” Freeman said. “And I don’t know where it’s coming from.”

Freeman also declined to say what led investigators to deem the fire arson on Tuesday.

“I can’t get into that without releasing things we don’t want released,” Freeman said.

He said investigators had no suspects and declined to say where the blaze started inside the building.

Mike Vergon, a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, visited the site on Monday with local investigators. Freeman said Vergon, along with Anderson police Detective Gary Copeland, will be helping in the investigation, including assisting in conducting interviews. He said they want to interview about 10 people, including every employee.

Freeman declined to estimate how long the investigation could take.

“Who knows?” he said. “I’ve seen it take a couple of days to never. I’m not going to put a time table on it. We are working very hard on it.”

Firefighters were called to the manufacturer at about 10:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 6, and had the blaze under control at about 1:30 a.m. the next day. Firefighters remained on the scene until about 4:30 a.m., and Freeman visited the site several times last week.

According to the Anderson Economic Development Department, the single-story building measured 39,150 square feet. Freeman said the blaze caused an estimated $750,000 to $1 million in damage, and the building could be a total loss.

American Playground owner Peter O’Scanaill, Carmel, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment late Wednesday. He said last week that he hoped to restart production by the end of this week. The company, which is insured, employs eight, he said. O’Scanaill has owned the business for 1 1/2 years, he said.

Freeman said it was unlikely production would resume any time soon because of the structural damage the building sustained.

“They’re not going to be back in there because it’s dangerous,” he said. “It’s not a safe environment for workers to be in at all.”

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Have a tip?

Anyone with information about the May 6 fire at American Playground, 6406 Production Drive, should contact Anderson Fire Department investigator Jeff Freeman at (765) 648-6611.

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