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Park arson investigation underway

BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. -- A popular park hangout in Lincoln Charter Township was destroyed overnight.

Now investigators are looking for the person responsible.

The incident happened at North Lake Park near Stevensville.

Investigators believe an arsonist could be to blame for what’s left of the pavilion at North Lake Park; now community members will have to find a new place to host parties and reunions.

The pavilion was loved by many, including Pat Kessler who has been coming to North Lake park for the past 17 years.

“That’s just a real shame, it’s just a sin,” said Kessler. “After all the money that was put into this place.”

The fire was under control within 15 minutes and completely out in 30 minutes.

But it was simply too late for the recently remodeled pavilion.

What used to be of the pavilion is now mostly ashes.

Brandon Chiarello, Assistant Fire Chief for Lincoln Township, said there’s no way to tell what the timeline to rebuild the pavilion would look like.

“It was a big hit in the community and I know they’re going to try to rebuild it as soon as possible,” said Chiarello.

Assistant Chief Chiarello says the cause of the fire has been deemed as undetermined but suspicious due to the time of day and the extent of the fire damage.

“We found a couple of objects that pointed to an arson situation but we can’t exactly pin point arson right now,” said Chiarello.

Now community members will have to find another location to host their get-togethers.

“I have people that live up the street from me. They have a family reunion here every year,” said Kessler.

Kessler hopes a suspect is apprehended soon and says he has “no sympathy whatsoever for whoever did this." He says the situation is “just a real shame.”

Detective John Chase of the Lincoln Township Police Department says they will also be treating the investigation as one of arson.

State fire investigators from the Michigan State Police are offering an up to $5,000 dollar reward for any information that may lead to the arrest and/or prosecution of the arsonist(s).

If you have any information, you are urged to call 1-888-44-ARSON.

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