Burning Love Letter Ignites Costly Fire In Anchorage, Teens Arrested

Breaking up was hard to do for one Alaska teen.

An 18-year-old Alaska teen, who was presumably getting over a recent breakup, joined a friend at a playground at Bowman Elementary School in Anchorage, Alaska, and decided to burn a love letter sent from the heartbroken young man’s ex.

Unfortunately, the remains of the burning love letter ignited a fire that caused nearly $20,000 in damage.

According to KTTU, Anchorage police said the fire from burning paper spread to rubber mulch. The fire engulfed two pieces of playground equipment, destroying them both.

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Castro told the Alaskan Dispatch News that Robert Charles Yaskell and Riley Dean Borello-Poythress are both charged with third-degree criminal mischief, which is a felony. They were also charged with misdemeanor counts of criminally negligent burning and failing to report or control a fire in the incident at Bowman Elementary School.

“Further investigation found that they had lit paper on fire on the playground and left the playground after the paper was ignited. It was reported to police that they were burning a ‘love letter’ from an ex-girlfriend.”

According to Castro, it is still unclear what occurred in the relationship that led to the letter’s burning. She said police had spoken with several witnesses before making contact with the defendants.

“When we spoke with them, they were cooperative with police — but they did not initially report the fire to us.”

Anchorage firefighters responded to the school a little after 8 p.m. Monday.

According to fire spokesman John See, the fire was not easily extinguished, and it took two crews at least half an hour to bring the fire under control. See said the difficulties in putting out the fire was due to the combustible nature of the rubber mulch used to cover the space beneath the playground equipment.

Although the teens suffered an indisputable error in judgment, Castro said they would not be charged with arson, because that charge involves a deliberate attempt to ignite a blaze.

“They did not indicate that they were trying to light the playground on fire.”

On Wednesday, Anchorage School District spokeswoman Heidi Embley said the total estimate for replacement costs from the fire, which destroyed two pieces of playground equipment, came in at about $21,000.

It seems playgrounds in Anchorage are at risk of fire. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, three other playground fires occurred in the area last summer. The costs of those blazes at Alpenglow Elementary, Taku Elementary, and Aquarian Charter schools came in at nearly $110,000 in total damage.

Yaskell and Borello-Poythress are currently being held in the Anchorage jail, Castro said.

A burning ritual to put the past in its place is not a new concept. Many have been told to burn love letters, photos, or anything that prevents one from moving on.

Cultures and religions around the world participate in burning rituals to cleanse the past and help people move on.

Unfortunately for these two young men, who may have really only wanted just to put the past in its place, their intentions didn’t go as planned.

So have any of you burned a love letter from your ex? What about burning a picture of your ex?

Yea, love hurts.

[Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images]