Somebody thought it was a good idea to soak a baseball field in gasoline and then light it on fire in order to dry the infield out in time for the game.
It didn’t work.
Last Saturday at 11 AM, the Ridgefield High baseball team in Connecticut were scheduled to host their rivals from Amity on Ciuccoli Field. It had rained the night before, and the infield was still fairly damp. Someone, and we don’t know who, had the brilliant idea of dousing the entire infield in gasoline and then lighting it on fire in order to dry out the soil.
Rather than getting dry and somewhat charred sand, they wound up with a toxic flaming mess that required the city to pay $50,000 to have a hazardous materials crew come clean up.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi told Hearst Connecticut Media exactly how it all went down. "The basepath — the dirt part of the field — was wet and it was evident that they'd have to relocate or cancel because of the conditions," he said. "Someone had the idea to put gas on the surface. Let it burn to dry up the water and make the field playable.
"Unfortunately, it was not a very good idea," added Marconi. "In theory, it sounded plausible, I guess, to those who participated."
The amount of gasoline used was reported as in the range of 25 gallons, which is almost twice the amount of fuel pumped into a family sedan every time it gasses up. That much gasoline soaked 6-8 inches of soil, and after it was lit on fire, the soaked ground acted like a candle wick by providing just enough gas to cause a slow, steady burn.
Between 75-100 people watched the whole thing happen, and even caught some footage on their cell phones.
The fire did not go out. Eventually, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection were called in with a hazardous waste crew to put out the fire and excavate the infield.
Marconi said that the contaminated soil will be moved to a safe location later this week. Police are still investigating the incident, but no charges have been laid as of yet.
The scheduled baseball game has been indefinitely postponed.