DC Fire crews investigate fires in empty RFK Stadium

DC Fire and EMS crews respond to a fire at RFK Stadium. (Courtesy DC Fire and EMS)

DC Fire and EMS crews are investigating what caused at least two fires inside the vacant RFK Stadium Tuesday afternoon.

Fire Chief John Donnelly Sr. said crews were alerted of smoke near the vicinity of Gate C at the Northeast venue at around 5:20 p.m.

Crews spent 30 minutes putting the fires out at the “basement level” of the stadium, which were “sort of hard to get to,” Donnelly said. The fire was under control in an hour. Video posted by DC Fire and EMS shows smoke coming out of one of the two dugouts on field level.

“It’s a pretty open air stadium,” Donnelly said. “Where the fire was is open all the way up, so that’s what’s going to happen. And today with the heat and humidity, the air is dense, so it’s hard to move smoke out of all the different rooms that are in the basement.”

Donnelly said investigators arrived at the scene and are trying to determine what caused the fires. However, when asked how big the fire was, he said “it was piles of trash.”

Nobody was found at the site during the fire and nobody was hurt at the scene.

The scene is safe and crews returned the stadium back to Events DC, the city’s convention and sports authority, Donnelly said.

RFK Stadium was formerly the home of several D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, the Washington Nationals and D.C. United. It has been without a tenant since D.C. United left for Audi Field in 2018. Demolition of the stadium is expected to begin at some point later this year.

Jose Umana

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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