Despite Roof Fire, UVa Practice Facility On Track for Completion

By: Rachel Ryan Email
By: Rachel Ryan Email

Before flames engulfed its roof, construction was halfway completed on the new indoor practice facility at the University of Virginia.

Monday's fire destroyed almost a quarter of the roof, but officials say it could have been much worse.

"The bottom line is the fire, had it been burning a different way, if the wind had been blowing in a different direction, we could have seen a much worse result from that," Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner said. "We could have seen the entire roof blow off that facility."

It took crews more than an hour to put out the flames. It was a job they say was made much tougher because of the construction site.

"From the football practice facilities, we ran into a couple of issues right of the bat," Werner said. "First of all, we had access issues. It was a huge construction site which meant our apparatus vehicles didn't have free reign and access close to the building as we needed to."

At a press conference Tuesday, UVa. officials said despite the fire, the construction of the new facility is still on track for opening in Spring 2013 for football practice.

Officials say they believe workers using a welding torch started the fire. The layers of insulation and roofing material were quick to ignite and caused the thick black smoke that was visible in the sky from miles away.

"Even across at Emmet Street, where people stopped because it was so thick, that's from that rubber membrane burning because it's a petroleum-based product and it burns like oil," Werner said.

UVa. officials say construction crews are back to work rebuilding what was lost.


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