A "real challenge" to repair the fire damage
The Empower Field at Mile High Stadium, home of our Denver Broncos, caught fire on the afternoon of March 24. Numerous videos on social media show the dark smoke coming from inside the complex. It is suspected that the fire may have started from the suite level of the stadium. The Denver Fire Department did extinguish the flames promptly and effectively and named the fire accidental, however it is still unclear if any stadium personnel were either on hand at or near the fire when it occurred, or how the fire originally began. The stadium seats 76,125 people and holds 144 suites, and the fire damaged a few hundred seats along with twelve luxury suites. “This type of plastic that the seats are composed of burns with not only significant ferocity ... but also produces a tremendous amount of black smoke,'' said Capt. Greg Pixley, a spokesman for the fire department. Team president, Joe Ellis, told reporters at an annual league meeting that repairing the fire damage would be a “real challenge” for the team to be able to prepare the damaged areas in time for the upcoming season. “At first glance, we thought it wasn’t much of a big deal,” Ellis says, “but after going to see the damage and witnessing it in-person and spending time with fire inspectors and people from our stadium and the reclamation team that came in, it was a significant event”.
The reason it is a worry that repairs may not be done in time is the steel risers that are used all throughout the stadium. Ellis explains that once the heat of the fire increased, the risers buckled. “We'll have to re-fabricate those steel risers in those particular sections and with supply-chain issues around the world and each one is a different dimension because of the way the seating bowl is constructed and contoured, it will take some time to get those replaced and they will have to be replaced."
The good news? No one was injured due to the fire and Mile High is still set to host events this month. The fire will not “slow down the operations of the stadium; everything will continue to run and be in place for the summer,” Ellis says. "Everything worked the way it was supposed to in terms of our sprinkler system and evacuation system, which was important because the fumes from those seats were incredibly toxic — something I didn't realize was an issue, but it would have been significant for people had they been subjected to it."
Story by: Hannah Trollope '22