Stadium

The Gainesville Fire and Rescue rushed to put out a fire at the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 12, 2020. Fire Marshals will investigate the exact cause, per Gainesville Fire Rescue on the scene.

A fire at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday afternoon that lasted about an hour and temporarily closed down Museum Road is under investigation.

A maintenance tractor is believed to be the cause of the Saturday afternoon fire, said Steve McClain, the UF senior associate athletics director. The stadium will be closed the rest of Saturday and Sunday for investigation.

Nobody was injured, said UF spokesperson Steve Orlando. The Florida Gators tweeted that there was no damage to the facility. 

UF also tweeted about the incident just before 4 p.m., writing that the cause and damage were being assessed. 

First responders arrived at the scene within 20 minutes and evacuated the entire stadium. The stretch of Museum Road that passes the south endzone was closed down. The halls, typically filled with orange and blue, had thick, black smoke which filtered up from behind the scoreboard behind the south end zone. 

Stadium2

Two firemen from the Gainesville Fire and Rescue put out a fire in The Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 12, 2020.

Just after 3 p.m, the stadium began to take up a smoky scent, even from across the field, and soon the air began to sting at their eyes. About 20 students exercising and walking around the bleachers stopped and stared at the column of dark air. Phones were out recording and chatter carried throughout the otherwise empty field.

“We were driving on University and then three fire trucks drove by us,” Mickey Suarez, a 20-year-old UF telecommunication major said.

Mickey Suarez said he left the fire trucks after a moment, but circled back once they saw on Twitter that a fire had broken out.

The stadium is scheduled to be closed this upcoming week, from Sept. 14-18, for regular pre-season maintenance before being reopened on Sept. 19 for regular public hours of 7 a.m to 8 p.m.

Contact Ryan Haley at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ryan_dhaley.