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JERSEY CITY, NJ - In the latest catastrophe to befall the Jersey City Snakes, burning embers from a fireworks display caused the entire outfield at Hertz Field to burst into flames during Saturday's game against the Brooklyn Cyclones. (FULL STORY)
The resulting five-alarm fire sent fans scrambling for the exits as a thick, toxic smoke filled the stadium. Fortunately, no one was hurt.
For weeks, specialists have been warning the Snakes organization about the mysterious sludge oozing up in center field. On Thursday, a layer of manure was spread on the grass as a stopgap solution to what state HazMat officials described as a "toxic soup."
"I couldn't believe they went ahead with Fireworks Night," said HazMat's Ron Scolari, who arrived with firefighters. "You got the dung methane, you got hexavalent chromium and God knows what else bubbling up.... Unbelievable."
Snakes' Pep Band trombonist Jiff Barganski was on the field at the time. "We were playing 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' like we always do. Next thing, I see this wall of fire coming at me. I just ran." he said, examining the melted soles of his shoes. "My horn's still out there."
Strong winds blowing in inhibited the flight of the rockets, causing them to explode much lower than expected. Fans' cheers suddenly turned to terrified screams as burning chunks of phosphorous were blown back onto the field.
10-year-old Kevin Clatterbuck was wide-eyed. "It just went 'Boom!' I thought it was cool, until I smelled it."
Kevin's father, Carl Clatterbuck, said, "It smelled like rotten eggs and death. You won't see us here again anytime soon."
Team owner Gerard Gilmore was somber. "The entire Snakes organization is deeply regretful that this happened and we plan to get to the bottom of how it could have come about."
When Gilmore was reminded he received a report from HazMat officials explicitly cautioning against Fireworks Night, Gilmore said, "Let's not blow this out of proportion. Up until the fire, people were having a wonderful time."
He added, "We're looking forward to seeing everyone out at the park again this weekend. Snakes fans are the best in the world!"
In another first for the Snakes, the game was officially called "on account of fire," with the Snakes losing 14 - 5.
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