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Freezing temperatures and few hydrants hinder firefighters at Fifth Third Ballpark

COMSTOCK PARK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - After fire ravaged a West Michigan ballpark, there is a promise that baseball will soon return.

"Were going to be playing baseball again come April 8th this year," said Whitecaps Managing Partner Denny Baxter, "that I can absolutely promise everybody, well get through this, well be seeing baseball in April."

On Friday, fire struck the home of the West Michigan Whitecaps, leaving the ballpark devastated. Thick, black smoke was visible from miles away.

The flames took out much of the first base area, the entire first section of suites in that area collapsed.

Newschannel 3 has been told that about 30 people were working in the structure at the time, but all got out safely.

The Plainfield Fire Chief Dave Peterson tells Newschannel 3 that the fire was caused by a worker using a heater in one of the suites.

"Everything from about the center home plate down the first base side is pretty much destroyed," said Chief Peterson.

Fire departments responded from all over the area, more than 50 firefighters battled the flames that were tearing through more than ten suites.

Firefighters say the extreme cold and the winds that directed the water back at them made fighting the flames extremely challenging, but ice and freezing temperatures weren't the only things standing in their way.

"There weren't an adequate number of hydrants for the amount of apparatus we were trying to use," said Chief Peterson.

The Plainfield Fire Chief says that will change.

"When they rebuild, were going to be requesting more hydrants," said Chief Peterson, "probably requiring more hydrants is a better way to put that."

The number of hydrants is determined by the size of the structure and whether or not it has sprinklers. The ballpark had sprinklers so they were able to have fewer hydrants, but again, the chief says that will have to change when they rebuild the site.