Fire destroys local ball field concession stand

Fire destroys local ball field concession stand
By: Arnold Wyrick
Murphysboro, IL - The 911 call from a train conductor passing by the Harrison Ball Park at 4 o'clock Wednesday morning, alarmed fire fighters about the blaze.  But by the time they got there the main concession stand was completely engulfed in flames.
"By the time we got here the fire had already broke through the roof of the main part of the concession stand.  We fought the fire for more than 3 hours before getting it knocked down," says Fire Chief Bill Bateman of the Murphysboro Pomona-Somerset Fire Protection District.
The early morning fire is just one in a string of fires in the area that started happening earlier this Summer.
"In the past two months we've had three suspicious fires within walking distance of here.  Knowing that the ball season was over, there probably shouldn't have been anybody here at that time of the morning.  That was a concern of ours," Chief Bateman said.
So he decided to call in the Illinois State Fire Marshall's Investigator to help search for how the fire started.
Meanwhile as news of the devastating fire spread throughout the Murphysboro community, many players, parents, and coaches began arriving at the ball field to see for themselves just how bad it really was.
"I didn't think it would be that bad.  I thought there would be a couple of walls standing at least.  I didn't think it would be all torn down and just a pile of rubble," says Audrey McConnell of Murphysboro.
As investigators sifted through the charred remains, those who had gathered to watch recalled some of their memories of sitting at one of the picnic tables, enjoying a bite to eat, and something to drink while watching a ball game.
"I enjoy coming out here on nights even when we didn't have a game, just to watch the other teams play.  It was really nice to have this centrally located in the park.  I've been coaching out here for 8 years, and played out here before that.  It's just sad to see it gone," says Scott Kemp of Murphysboro.
The exact cause of the fire still remains undetermined.  But Chief Bateman says they feel they at least know where it possibly started.
"The fire we believe started in the block building.  We believe it to be centered in and around one of the refrigeration units.  But officially the cause is going to be undetermined," Chief Bateman said.
The ball park does have insurance on the building.  And board members say they hope to have it rebuilt in time for the upcoming baseball season next Spring.