Fire destroys softball shed; cause undetermined

Flames filled a shed underneath the bleachers of Lions' Park stadium around 11:20 p.m. Saturday night. (Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor)

Some yellow has been added to the sea of blue seats of the College’s softball field, but this is not an act of school spirit.

Caution tape cordons off an end section of the bleachers, and there is a jagged, two-foot-wide hole in the middle of two rows. Black residue surrounds the hole, and the metal sags.

Below the stands, a metal storage shed is now rusted and darkened, with one side peeled outward and bent. A fire-scarred chair sits beside it, and the shed’s contents have been emptied out.

This is the aftermath of a fire that occurred around 11:20 p.m. in the shed underneath the bleachers of Lions’ Park, the College’s softball field, on Saturday, Nov. 20.

“We received a dispatch from campus about a fire in the vicinity of the track,” Stephen Luck, assistant chief of the Pennington Road Fire Company, said. As fire personnel were on their way to the scene, they found out the fire was actually on the third base side of the softball field and located in the storage shed.

The fire burnt a hole through the surface of the aluminum bleachers above, as seen Monday. (Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor)

According to Luck, the contents inside the shed were on fire and the flames extended upward, melting a section of the aluminum bleachers.

The incident is currently under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s Office.  After calling the state Division of Fire Safety, The Signal was directed to the Arson Investigation Unit and told that its personnel cannot discuss open investigations.

The Pennington Road Fire Co. extinguished the flames with the assistance of the West Trenton Fire Department.

“None of us were there when it happened,” said Michelle Casale, varsity softball player  and sophomore Math, Science and Technology (MST) and elementary education major. “We went as a team the next day to see the damage.”

“The shed underneath our stands was filled with all our equipment and field maintenance supplies. Everything inside was burned and ruined and it burned a hole through the stands above it as well,” Casale said.

“It was reported to us at about 11:25 p.m. Saturday night, and was extinguished by the fire department shortly thereafter. No one was injured,” Chief

The shed, which stored softball equipment and field maintenance supplies, was badly damaged. State fire personnel are investigating its cause. (Tom O'Dell / Photo Editor)

John Collins of Campus Police said in an e-mail.

“We have no conclusive information about the cause of the fire at this time,” Matthew Golden, vice president for College Relations and Advancement, said.

Softball coach Sally Miller said in an e-mail, “I’m grateful to the two students who were alert while walking campus … and ran into campus police to notify them.  It could have been so much worse had the time line been lengthened.”

“As a team, we’re really upset about the entire situation,” Becca Florczyk, varsity softball player and junior journalism major, said.

“We work really hard and we take a lot of pride in our field,” Florczyk said. “Coach has always been big on maintaining the field and looking as best as we possibly can as a team. It’s just unfair that we have to deal with something like this. No team deserves to go through it.”