By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Watching their team get burned by the Pittsburgh Steelers was bad. Coming out to the parking lot to find their cars had also been burned was, well, really bad.
Such was the fate of at least a dozen Redskins fans whose cars were burned Monday night in the FedEx Field parking lot while their team lost, 23-6. Someone -- one person whose sport-utility vehicle was burned said she suspects it was a Steelers fan -- placed a grill full of hot charcoal in the trunk of a car before going into the stadium, sparking a fire that destroyed eight vehicles and damaged one or two others.
Page Smith and her boyfriend, Charles Chavis, both 32 and of Richmond, left the game early with two friends to beat traffic. In the spot where their SUV had been parked, the four Redskins fans found only police tape and a person sweeping up ashes.
"The thought of our vehicle burning up never even crossed our minds," Smith said. "We really thought that we were just in the wrong spot."
It wasn't until later, after an hour of scouring the parking lot thinking their Cadillac Escalade had been towed or stolen, that someone overheard the couple complaining and told them about the fire. Smith said a few Steelers fans' cars were also burned.
Twenty firefighters battled the blaze for about 25 minutes, Prince George's County fire officials said. The damage was estimated at about $150,000, they said.
Maj. Dennis Wood, a fire department spokesman, called such car fires "not unheard of but . . . uncommon." He said the fire department keeps a vehicle in the parking lot during Redskins games in case of such an incident.
"The lesson learned is don't put hot coals in the trunk of your car," Wood said.