Toronto Raptor’s fans evacuated Scotiabank Arena at a game against the Indiana Pacers after a speaker caught fire at the venue, Saturday evening. And, though the game resumed, fans weren’t let back in.
The “small electrical fire” halted the game for 70 minutes as the crews worked to extinguish it.
Ticket holders were ordered to exit the arena with 4:05 left in the first half, and the Raptors up 66-38.
Raj Bath, a 34-year old Raptors fan from British Columbia, flew from Vancouver to see the team play with his father and brother.
The family sat courtside and saw the fire start.
A video showed an overhead speaker on fire above Section 103 in the east end of the arena.
“You could smell the smoke,” Bath said.
The first sign something was wrong was late in the first quarter when fans in the upper bowl of the east grandstand noticed smoke.
Announcer Herbie Kuhn was instructed to turn his mic off for safety purposes for several minutes. He could be heard testing the system multiple times late in the second quarter, but the main speakers above the stands didn’t appear to be operating.
Initially, only sections in the lower-bowl of the area were evacuated by firefighters.
“First, they cleared the area below the fire, directly behind the basket the Pacers were shooting on,” Bath said. “We saw fire crews attend and thought that was the end of the matter.”
But, eventually, Kuhn announced the Toronto Fire Services’ evacuation order.
Fans booed loudly. Bath and his family waited at the arena, hoping they’d be let back inside, but never were.
“It sucked to not return,” Bath said. “It felt like much of the trip was a waste given that my dad is a big Raptors fan and we brought him here for this.”
A fire official in a harness hung from the arena ceiling with a fire extinguisher before the game resumed, ensuring the troublesome speaker fire was no longer a danger.
After the players made it back on the court, they were allotted a 10-minuted warmup before finishing the first half. Halftime was cut to seven-and-a-half minutes.
In the end, Pascal Siakam had 23 points, while Scottie Barnes added 19 and the Raptors crushed the Pacers 131-91.
With files from Global’s Irelyne Lavery