Update at 3:15 p.m. on 10/4/2023
Friday’s football game between Illinois and Nebraska will be played as scheduled, the University of Illinois’ athletic department announced.
Update at 10:55 p.m.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Officials with the Champaign Fire Department said one firefighter was hurt Tuesday evening when a fire broke out at Memorial Stadium.
The fire started just before 8 p.m. in a maintenance area located under the horseshoe seating area of the stadium. Workers at the stadium told WCIA reporters that they heard a loud boom and then saw black smoke in the area of the horseshoe as they escaped. One said she smelled oil when she made it outside.
Firefighters responded to an automatic fire alarm at the stadium and upon arrival, they upgraded the emergency to a second alarm when they saw the smoke.
Officials said groundskeeping equipment was stored in the area that caught fire. Randy Smith, Public Information Officer for the Champaign Fire Department, said the fire likely started with a UTV, and the tires could have been the source of the explsoion workers heard.
Firefighters were able to quickly extinguih the fire, with damage limited to the maintenance area where it originated. One firefighter was taken to the hospital for injuries, but Smith said the injuries are minor.
The cause of the fire is unknown at this time, and investigators remain at Memorial Stadium. There has been no indication the fire will affect Friday night game against Nebraska.
Update at 9:55 p.m.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The Assistant Director of Illini Athletics has revealed more details about Tuesday night’s Memorial Stadium fire as firefighters have started wrapping up their response.
Champaign firefighters were quick to extinguish the fire. A representative from the Champaign Fire Department said the fire was small, and that it is “too early to tell” as far as structural damage.
Assistant Director of Illini Athletics Brett Moore said the fire was located in the southwest corner of the stadium underneath the horseshoe, away from spectator areas. He said no injuries were reported. On behalf of the Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics, he thanked first responders for their quick action.
“The Illinois football team hosts Nebraska at Memorial Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. CT.,” Moore said. “DIA will continue to evaluate the facility over the course of the next day but early indications are positive that the stadium will be prepared to host the game, as scheduled and without interruption of seating or services, for the game on Friday.”
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — The University of Illinois has alerted campus that a Tuesday night fire at Memorial Stadium has been extinguished.
Though the 2-alarm fire has now been put out, the university urges the public to avoid the area around 1402 South First Street as fire crews remain working on scene. The university’s Illini-Alert system first informed campus of the fire around 8:10 p.m.
The cause of the fire has not been reported at this time.
This is a developing story. We will share more as it becomes available.