NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The Central Business District was abuzz on Tuesday afternoon as smoke and flames could be seen from miles away billowing from the roof of the Caesars Superdome.
The city tweeted that the New Orleans Fire Department was responding to the fire and requested for people to avoid the area until the situation has been resolved.
The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District and ASM Global issued a joint statement shortly after the fire was extinguished. The statement read:
“This afternoon a fire occurred on the exterior of the Caesars Superdome in the gutter tub of the roof. NOFD and venue first responders were dispatched immediately and extinguished the fire. Upon further investigation it appears that a pressure washer being used to clean the roof caught fire. Damage is still being assessed.”
A second statement released at 4:45 p.m. described the incident in further detail:
“The fire was contained to the exterior gutter system surrounding Superdome, and only a small area of the roof suffered minimal damage. Pressure washing was underway to clean the roof before a planned re-coating of the entire roof itself. Any fire damage will be addressed during the re-coating process.”
According to WGNO Sports director Ed Daniels, all employees and contractors working in the Superdome were evacuated for approximately 30 minutes until it was safe to return.
The NOFD issued a report stating an initial 911 call was received at 12:35 p.m. with the first company arriving on the scene at 1500 Poydras Street just three minutes later when a second alarm was called. A third alarm was called at 12:55 p.m. as a precautionary measure.
The report also claims 23 NOFD units carrying 51 fire operations personnel were deployed to the scene of the fire which was placed under control at 1:05 p.m. The NOFD also collaborated an earlier tweet from NOLA EMS regarding a worker injured during the blaze.
The injured person was transported to University Medical Center to be treated for minor burns.
For those working inside the dome, like Tony Estrada, who was on his lunch break, people were scrambling to quickly escape.
“It was just panic, man. Panic everywhere. Chaos,” Estrada told WGNO’s Anna McCallister. “We were running out of doors. It was crazy.”
Other workers recall seeing massive flames shooting from the roof.
“You could smell it and l looked up there and you could see in the roof all the smoke,” said Jason Hurst, who claimed the flames were from six- to 10-foot high.
Due to the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Ida throughout Southeast Louisiana, the Superdome has yet to host an NFL home game for the New Orleans Saints this season.
The Saints were expected to open their season in the dome against Green Bay on Sept. 12.
That game was moved, and the team was expected to return to the stadium in Week 4 against the New York Giants on Oct. 3.
In the second statement released by LSED and ASM Global, the status of the Saints first home game was discussed:
“While final assessments continue, the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District (LSED), along with the Superdome’s management company, ASM Global, do not feel the fire will impact or force any cancellation of future events, including the October 3rd New Orleans Saints football game.
“Some smoke did enter the interior of the Superdome but was quickly evacuated. There is no initial evidence of any interior smoke damage. Clean-up crews have been on-site since New Orleans firefighters extinguished the fire.”