EUGENE, Ore. — Four boys, ages 10 to 12, are facing second-degree arson charges in Monday afternoon’s fire that burned Civic Stadium to the ground. Investigators got the tip on Wednesday that led them to the kids.
A fifth boy told his parents what happened and they reported it to police. He left before the kids set the fire in the press box by lighting leaves and debris. The boys tried to put it out, but it got out of hand and they left on their bicycles.
Firefighters found flames shooting twice as high as the stadium around 5:30 and residents for two blocks around the stadium were evacuated for safety.
Eugene-Springfield Fire Chief Randy Groves said the stadium’s dry, seasoned lumber allowed the fire to spread quickly. The stadium did not have sprinklers.
Most of the fire was out within 90 minutes and crews battled flare-ups throughout the night. Nobody was hurt.
The stadium was approved by voters in 1938 during the Great Depression and was one of only twelve wooden ballparks left in the United States. Lumbermen donated materials and the labor was provided through the Works Progress Administration.
The Eugene Emeralds played at the stadium from 1969 until 2009. The Eugene Civic Alliance, a non-profit group of community activists bought it this April and had plans to build a soccer field and park on the property.
“We’re really heartbroken. It’s a hard day,” said co-founder Derek Johnson.
Police are asking for tips and ask the public to turn over all video and pictures to help with the investigation. You can call (541) 682-8888 or email.
KXL’s Brett Reckamp & Steve Herman contributed to this story