Onlookers mournfully sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” as they watched Oregon’s historic Civic Stadium burn to the ground on Monday evening.
Firefighters had the blaze at the wooden baseball stadium, which was built in 1938, under control about two hours after it was first reported, but the structure itself was completely lost.
“This fire will probably be burning through tonight into tomorrow and the next day,” Eugene-Springfield Fire Chief Randy Grove told NBC News.
People gathered to watch firefighters battle the flames, bursting into spontaneous song. “There was easily a thousand people lining the street watching it,” Jeff Oliver, who coached high school baseball at the stadium, told the network. “People didn’t want to leave. They wanted to get that last memory.”
He added: “There were people crying and singing ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’ ”
In April, a nonprofit acquired the stadium, which was abandoned in 2009 by the Eugene Emeralds, the minor league team that played there previously. The site was supposed to become a facility for kids’ sports, but that plan appears likely to be scrapped now that the stadium is gone.
“Civic Stadium is an iconic structure in Eugene and the surrounding area. I know it’s a place I took my kids when they were younger,” Graves said. “It’s a tragic loss, especially just on the verge of having a beautiful complex built here.”
The cause of fire remains undetermined, KATU reports. Investigators are asking the public for any help they can offer.