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A 13-year-old Buffalo boy has been charged with criminal mischief in connection with a fire that destroyed a popular jungle gym set at the town’s Kelly Park late Friday afternoon.

Cheektowaga Police Capt. James Speyer said officers are continuing to investigate the youth’s claim that he started the fire accidentally.

Officials estimate it will cost up to $100,000 to replace the play equipment.

The boy was among several boys was stopped by Cheektowaga Police Sgt. James Patterson, who was off duty but shopping near the playground, just as the fire began.

The boy told police he had been playing with a lighter and a pine cone near the jungle gym and threw it down after lighting it, assuming it was out.

Speyer says the boy told police that as he and his friend were on the basketball court when the fire began.

The boy, who is being prosecuted in Erie County Family Court on a criminal mischief charge, could face additional charges if police find evidence contradicting the boy’s claims, Speyer said.

He said the boy was released to the custody of his parents Friday night.

email: mgryta@buffnews.com