West Orange-Cove leader and fire chief update progress week after press box stadium fire

Published 12:18 am Friday, July 7, 2023

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The cause of the fire last week at West Orange-Stark football stadium press box remains unknown, though construction at the facility will continue.

West Orange Fire Chief David Roberts said on Thursday the investigation is ongoing and the cause of the fire is undetermined at this point.

Roberts said there is no timeline for the conclusion of the investigation.

The press box upgrade is the final portion of the 2018 bond, said Dawn Martin, chief communications officer for West Orange-Cove Consolidated Independent School District.

Martin said the stadium would be open for the start of the 2023-24 school year but specifics on the press box are not known at this time.

As for the extent of the damage, Martin said school leaders are waiting on the conclusion of the fire investigation.

The fire broke out on the afternoon of June 29 in the press box constriction site.

“We are currently in the process of investigating the cause of the incident, and until the investigation is concluded, the exact origin of the fire remains unknown,” Martin said in a news release following the fire. “We would like to express our gratitude to the first responders who promptly arrived at the scene and successfully contained the fire, minimizing potential damage.”

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

Martin reiterated in the June 29 news release that construction would continue as planned.

“We remain committed to completing this project, which will enhance the overall experience for athletes, coaches, and spectators alike,” she said. “The incident has not deterred us from our objective, and we are determined to move forward with the construction process.”

In 2018, voters in WO-CCISD approved a $25.75 million bond, which included technology upgrades, classroom furniture, security updates, infrastructure work and the new press box and an event center.

Opening of the press box at the stadium and the event center was delayed last year due to supply shortages associated with COVID.

Aug. 9 is the first day of the 2023-24 school year.

— Written by Mary Meaux