Market Square Arena Fires
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Market Square Arena Fires

"LOOKING BACK" by Captain Greg Roembke

Workers using a torch cause fire on the roof of Market Square Arena.

A fire in the gutter system of the roof at Market Square Arena sent clouds of black smoke over the Downtown area. The fire, which was between the fiberglass gutter system and the outer wall of the arena, was caused by workers using a torch.

As firefighters pulled hoses to the roof area, elevated streams were used from the street in an effort to control the blaze. They were hampered in their efforts due to limited access to this area, and a void in the area behind the gutter. It was necessary to use power saws to get at the fire.

Work on the arena was suspended for the rest of the day, while officials examined the damage. It is not known if this will delay the opening of the new facility.

Delay the opening? That is right. I should mention that this fire happened in 1974, as Market Square was being built.

In one of those odd occurrences that seem to be part of the fire service, firefighters were back on the roof of MSA almost exactly 27 years after the first fire.

It was May 6, 1974 when the arriving companies were greeted by the sight of flames and smoke rolling from the roof of the 'still under construction' arena. Then, as now, access to the roof was less than complete, and hoselines had to be hauled up from the ground. As this was happening, Aerial 7 and Snorkel 13 poured water onto the roof.

One difference in the two fires were their locations, and they were not that apart In 1974, the fire was centered on the New Jersey Street side, making it a little easier for the aerial operations. Beyond that, everything else was pretty much a copy of the first fire. Although some of the firefighters that worked both of these fires claim that the roof was a lot higher this time around.

Construction workers were blamed for both of the fires. However, the question is already being asked:

Do you think that those guys really put it all out in 1974?