Exclusive: McCartney concert scorched BC Place stadium
Sir Paul McCartney’s recent crowd-rousing concert in Vancouver didn’t tear the roof off BC Place – but it did damage the lining on it.
The former Beatle’s pyrotechnics reached a crescendo during a performance of “Live and Let Die,” sending high-powered fireworks directly into the recently-constructed, $465-million roof paid for by British Columbian taxpayers.
“The fireworks were literally bouncing off the rooftop [then] coming down a bit,” said Adam Lee, a witness at the Nov. 26 show. “We all thought, ‘What if there’s a fire?’ ”
BC Place is still assessing damage to the roof's lining, which appears to be slight, as the Vancouver Fire Department investigates exactly what went wrong.
“It seems like it was really just a mechanical issue,” Chief Les Sziklai told CTV News. “The measurement was taken with a portable device that for some reason measured 20 or 30 feet higher than the actual ceiling.”
Whatever the cause, the incident has already spurred fire officials to change protocols around concerts with pyrotechnics.
The department will now be supervising pre-testing for every show at the stadium, and providing technicians with a pre-measured grid so they know the proper ceiling heights.
BC Place assistant general manager Kathy Delisser said the roof lining is made of flame-resistant material, but that couldn’t save it from cooking a bit under the heat.
“We do have some scorch marks,” Delisser said. “We’re still not sure yet if those can just be washed off or if panels need to be replaced.”
Whatever potential repairs are needed will be paid for by the Paul McCartney tour, she added.
Chief Sziklai said the potential for panicking crowds is what worries him most.
“People should get out effectively, but the panic starts and as people run to the exits, they stumble, they fall, and they might be impaired by alcohol. And that’s when we see people dying,” he said.
The department said it’s unlikely McCartney’s team will be fined because no one was hurt, and the incident appears to be an honest mistake.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Peter Grainger