WEST ALLIS — As many predicted, an examination by experts of a plastic playground slide that exploded, burning a New Berlin boy, 9, yielded no immediate answers as to the cause of the explosion.
Engineers from Landscape Structures, which installed the slide last year, and from consultants hired by the boy's family took measurements and photographs Wednesday, July 5. They even had a remote camera that could go inside the slide.
But none of that yielded an answer.
Michael Lewis, West Allis director of public works, was among the city officials who were there and saw the puzzlement in the room.
"They were staring at it like I was starring at it thinking what the heck happened here," Lewis said. No public works director he contacted through a nationwide professional organization had ever heard of a slide exploding, he said.
He wasn't surprised the initial examination didn't yield results, Lewis said.
"This will be time-consuming," he said. "Nobody's going to get any answers quick."
Landscape Structures engineers asked for a sample to analyze, but that will have to wait until all parties are happy with the choice of laboratories to do the work, said Assistant City Attorney Jenna Merton. She wants to research labs that could potentially handle the assignment, she said.
Meanwhile, the slide is at the West Allis police station.
Even if the engineers settle on a theory, they will probably have to confirm it by duplicating it in a laboratory, he said.
He would like an answer soon, though.
"I want to know, so this does not happen again," Lewis said.
He repeated his theory that the explosion was not heat related.
"Otherwise they would be blowing up in Texas," he said.
Indeed, the sound of the slide explosion was described by some at the scene like a semi truck tire blowing out at freeway speed.
The slide was on the playground at Reservoir Park, 9621 W. Lapham St. The June 21 explosion ripped a baseball-size hole in the bottom of the slide and burned the boy in the leg. The child was taken to the hospital and the slide ended up a contorted wreck.
The slide was taken down and has now been replaced.