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Tree vandals spark fire in Gerritsen Beach for the third time since fall

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Gerittsen Beach’s arborcidal maniacs are back.

Mischief makers thumbed their nose at nature by igniting a grove of troubled Gerritsen Beach saplings on Wednesday in the third attack on the timberland since the city planted trees there in the fall.

Thankfully, speedy firefighters from Engine Company 321 swiftly extinguished the blaze before it could spread through Marine Park, said an FDNY official.

Witnesses say they spotted two teenagers fleeing Marine Park, between PS 277 and the Gerritsen Beach ball fields, at 4 pm — minutes before the smoke-eaters showed up.

“I was cleaning up graffiti across the street [from the park] when lo and behold this happens!” said Ron Greenberg, who has established a task force with community groups to help quench the vandalism.

The three-foot saplings were among 4,000 trees planted by volunteers and Parks Department workers on Oct. 22. Vandals first overturned the ones near PS 277 at Gerritsen and Bijou avenues on Nov. 2. The agency promptly replaced them, but the bandits struck back on the weekend before Thanksgiving, uprooting 120 of them in a brazen raid.

Residents are incensed at the prospect that teens have returned to their rabble-rousing ways after police www.brooklyndaily.com/stories/2011/44/bn_copsfloodgerritsen_2011_11_04_bk.html ">occupied Gerritsen Beach on Oct. 31 to avoid a repeat of last year’s Halloween fiasco, when trick-or-treaters pelted cars and pedestrians with rocks and potatoes.

But the latest incident proves to some that the neighborhood shouldn’t let its guard down.

“We need to send these youth a message that this won’t be tolerated,” said Greenberg.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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