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Did sprinkler failure contribute to Fifth Third Ballpark fire?

Fifth Third Ballpark fire

The potential failure of a sprinkler system may have contributed to the fire Saturday at Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps (Low Class A; Midwest League), as fire officials and insurance investigators determine exactly what happened.

Investigators are focused on the potential failure of the sprinkler as a contributing factor to the extent of Friday’s fire, which destroyed 12 suites, a concourse and the home clubhouse, totaling $500,000 in losses. There were issues earlier that day with a space heater, with the alarm system tripped first at 5 a.m. and later that morning, when fire crews were dispatched to put out a small fire mid-morning. The fire then re-ignited at 11 a.m., causing the larger blaze.

The question: why the sprinkler system never went off, which could have avoided the more extensive damages. From

[Plainfield Township Fire Chief Dave] Peterson earlier said it’s likely that a space heater was the cause of the fire, but authorities continue to look into the issue….

Unrelated to the fire, an alarm connected to the sprinkler system activated at about 5 a.m.

Peterson said it was likely a low-air alarm. It’s possible water may have entered the normally “dry” system and frozen in the morning hours.

If water entered the sprinkler system, it could have malfunctioned and failed to put out the fire.

RELATED STORIES: Second small fire put out at Fifth Third Ballpark; Baxter: We’ll reopen Fifth Third Ballpark for season opener; Fire breaks out at Fifth Third Ballpark


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