It happened again.
Just days after a high school baseball coach in Utah was placed on leave for contaminating his school’s baseball infield by attempting to dry it with petroleum, a high school baseball infield in Connecticut caught on fire when field maintenance crews were attempting to dry it using a similar method.
As reported by the Ridgefield Press, the town’s Ciuccoli Field, home to the Ridgefield High School baseball team, suffered an expected $50,000 worth of damage when someone believed to be connected with the field’s maintenance plans doused some 25 gallons of gasoline on the infield and then lit it on fire. The field was left with six to eight inches of gas-soaked soil that had to be excavated on Sunday and later transported away.
While Ridgefield First Selectman (i.e., mayor) Rudy Marconi told the Press, the idea was clearly to ignite the gasoline to dry out the wet dirt after a Friday night rainstorm. And, like in Utah, what seemed a plausible concept turned into a disaster in action.
“I’m not aware of who exactly it was who got the gas but what we do know is that someone did use some gas around third base and that seemed to work,” Marconi told the Press. “Others then went to get more gas and began spreading it from second over to the third … they lit up that little area and it dried it up. Everyone thought it was working. They thought they could take care of the whole field with gas. … One person said they had done it in the past.
“It’s been done before, and every situation that’s out there ends with negative consequences. Maybe it worked 50 to 60 years when there were no environmental regulations but nowadays it’s a definite no no.”
And, we can hope, it’s a mistake that won’t be repeated … though given recent events, that may be misplaced optimism.