An unsupervised space heater and problems with the sprinkler system led to the fire at Fifth Third Ballpark, home of the West Michigan Whitecaps (Low Class A; Midwest League).
The seven-page report from the Plainfield Township fire investigators provided a detailed look at what happened. In all, the fire that destroyed 12 suites and a popular concourse area could have been prevented, but cold weather (which affected the sprinkler system) certainly played a part in the incident as well. Altogether, the fire caused $500,000 worth of damage to the ballpark; Whitecaps ownership says they’ll be ready to play in April and will host the 2014 Midwest League All-Star Game as well. From MLive.com:
Two employees were working to remodel Suite 306 about 10:30 a.m. when they were asked to check on a frozen water pipe in the building.
They left the suite and closed the door behind them. Two portable radiant heaters were left on high so the room would not get cold, according to the report by investigator Kyle Svoboda….
The radiant heaters caused a fire in a Rubbermaid trash container, and employees tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher. At this point you’d expect the sprinkler system to kick in, but it had malfunctioned three times in the past three weeks, tripping a circuit breaker and sounding an alarm.
In the end, the fire was ruled an accident by investigators. Let the rebuilding begin.
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