A fire in the basement rooms of Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) Stadium was extinguished Tuesday evening.
DC Fire Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Chief John A. Donnelly said the fire broke out in the basement rooms of the stadium late the afternoon of July 5. Firefighters were called to the stadium around 5:20 p.m.
The fire was located in the basement, Donnelly said, so while it may have appeared to passers by that the stadium was on fire, it was very localized. “It was piles of trash,” Donnelly said.
Still, smoke billowed coming from the open air building, trickling up from the basement through open pathways. “It’s a pretty open air stadium, where the fire was is open all the way up so that’s what’s going to happen,” Donnelly said. “Today, with the heat and humidity the air is pretty dense, so its hard to move smoke out of all the different rooms that are in the basement.”
Firefighters found two fires and had them uner contol in about 30 minutes. Smoke was cleared and the fire declared under contol after about an hour, Donnelly said. A search was conducted and nobody was found on site, he added.
Donnelly said it was too early Tuesday evening to speculate on causes, but added that the fire marshall was en route to investigate.
Working Fire RFK Stadium. #DCsBravest have located several fires in below grade levels in the stadium. In the process of extinguishing same. No injuries reported. Investigators enroute. pic.twitter.com/RguAa8KPeM
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) July 5, 2022
A contract to demolish RFK was awarded in 2020, but retracted after opposition from competitors for the Request for Proposals (RFP). A new RFP process was initiated in December 2020, but there has been no movement on the project since.
As of 2019, Events DC reported that the stadium costs about $3.5 million to maintain. Razing the stadium could cost upwards of $10 million, according to Washington Business Journal, which compared the cost demolition for New Jersey’s Giants Stadium in 2010.
The RFK Stadium campus is owned by the National Park Service (NPS) but managed by Events DC, which has a long term lease on the site.
While the District has expressed interest in federal legislation that would give control over the 190-acre site, DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) told the Washington Post that she would not introduce such a bill unless there is agreement between Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and DC Council over the use of such a site.
On June 9, seven DC councilmembers sent Norton a letter opposing the use of the land for an NFL stadium, an idea Bowser has repeatedly supported.