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Marshall game on despite fire at stadium

HUNTINGTON – Despite the fire at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards Stadium this past weekend, Saturday’s game against University of North Carolina-Charlotte will go on as scheduled, Marshall athletics officials said Tuesday.

The Thundering Herd and the 49ers will kick off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, said Scott Morehouse, associate athletic director for game operations and facilities at Marshall.

Investigators with the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office ruled Monday that arson was at play in relation to two fires that were set on campus Sunday night.

 Huntington Fire Chief Carl Eastham said crews responded to the stadium after receiving reports of the flames at 11:50 p.m. Sunday.

The first fire was set at the football stadium, starting in portable restrooms along the eastern side of the stadium and spreading up a light tower in proximity to the stadium. The second fire was set in portable restrooms outside of Dot Hicks Field, Marshall’s softball stadium, which sits on the corner of 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue, opposite the Chris Cline Athletic Complex.

Staff with the Marshall University Police Department and the state Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating the incident, and a $5,000 reward has been offered for information that leads to an arrest.

As of Tuesday, Marshall Police Chief Jim Terry said there was no new information regarding the investigation that could be released to the public. Terry said Monday that investigators would be reviewing surveillance footage around both facilities in an effort to obtain suspect information.

Morehouse said he and athletic officials had met with structural engineers from Potesta and Associates, an external engineering group from Charleston, as well as Ntelos engineers Monday and Tuesday to determine the extent of the damage to the pole and an adjoining cell tower ahead of the game.

 The metal poles that support the stadium lights are not connected to the actual stadium structure, and the structural stability of the stadium was not compromised, Morehouse said.

“The concern was that the light pole itself could fall,” Morehouse said. “With the information the structural engineers were able to gather, they deemed it sound today.”

Morehouse said the lights attached to the affected light pole would be burning bright Saturday night, but the cell tower was under repair Tuesday.

Reporter Grant Traylor contributed to this report.

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