Halifax police are looking for suspects after a fire was deliberately set to a piece of playground equipment in Dartmouth.

Police responded to the Dartmouth waterfront near the ferry terminal around 5:15 p.m. Monday.

Clouds of smoke could be seen billowing from the playground, where a wooden boat designed to look like a pirate ship had been torched.

More than 100 children from a nearby daycare made regular visits to the playground.

“That was our big landmark for our kids was…the boat, to play, so we would stop there first, play a bit, and go to the library,” says daycare director Sharron Burton.

Tim Rissesco is president of the Kiwanis Club, which donated funds to build the play ship 13 years ago. He is also the president of the Downtown Dartmouth Business Commission and a father who frequented the playground with his children.

“A six-year-old and an eight-year-old and they were devastated last night to see the video,” says Rissesco.

A major refit and improvement of the boat had been scheduled for this spring. The city had set aside $41,000 to pay for the upgrade, but rebuilding the ship is going to cost a lot more.

“I think to replace a playground like this would be well over $100,000,” says Rissesco.

The ship was a popular play destination for parents and children due to expensive rubberized coatings that made it safe.

Ramps and other features also made it one of the few playgrounds suitable for children with disabilities.

Witnesses reported seeing a group of five teenagers – four males and one female – running from the scene. Police searched the area and located a group of youths fitting the description.

They have since been questioned and released.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact them.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Ron Shaw