Huntington Valley Little League tries to bounce back after possible arson fire at local field

Just hours after Huntington Valley Little League's fall season ended Sunday, someone apparently set fire to the scorekeeping and storage booth at a league field in Wardlow Park, leaving the Huntington Beach organization struggling to figure out how to replace the booth and some bleachers and netting before the spring season begins in January.

The fire likely will thwart the league's plans to improve the playing field, which had been in the works for months, Huntington Valley Little League President Tim Stone said Thursday.

Stone provided the Daily Pilot with security camera footage from a home near the park that appears to show a man setting fire to the booth at about 9:15 p.m. Sunday at Wardlow Park, 19761 Magnolia St.

The video, which has been reviewed by Huntington Beach police, shows the man, who appears to be wearing a sweatshirt and shorts and carrying a backpack, kneeling and lighting a fire. Flames begin to spread up the front of the wooden booth as the man walks away.

"The emotional distress of this person violating our home away from home has been a roller coaster," Stone said. "Every time I go back to the field, it's just really tough to take."

Neighbors noticed the blaze around 10 p.m. and called firefighters. When Stone arrived shortly after, fire crews had just finished knocking down the flames, he said.

The fire destroyed the booth and everything inside, including gear for catchers, umpires and the speaker system. The flames also damaged bleachers on both sides of the booth and the netting above home plate.

The damage was estimated at $25,000. Stone said the league has insurance but he's unsure how much will be covered.

About 750 children ages 4 to 14 play in the league each year, Stone said.

"We just want to create a loving, safe environment for them to come and play baseball," he said.

Authorities said they are looking for the man in the video and encouraged anyone with information about the case to call the Huntington Beach Police Department at (714) 536-5951.

The league is accepting donations to help fund the repairs through its website, hvll.org.

hannah.fry@latimes.com

Twitter: @HannahFryTCN

Copyright © 2017, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
77°