Firefighters blast away at ice atop Cowboys Stadium

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by GARY REAVES and REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on February 5, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Updated Sunday, Feb 6 at 2:33 PM

ARLINGTON — As the sun melted snow and ice across North Texas on Saturday afternoon, officials in Arlington continued to monitor the roof of Cowboys Stadium.

On Friday, sheets of melting snow and ice slid off the edge of the curved 660,800-square-foot roof, injuring six people, sending them to the hospital.

Ice continued to fall on Saturday as the temperature rose above freezing for the first time since Tuesday.

The NFL called on Arlington firefighters to inspect the roof of the Super Bowl venue. Tethered by safety harnesses they assessed the danger posed by the remaining snow and ice.

"Our main problem is the gutter area near the lip of the building that we believe represents a hazard," said Arlington Fire Department Chief Don Crowson. "We are doing our best to remove that."

The temperature inside the stadium was raised on Saturday in an effort to accelerate the melting.

High-pressure fire hoses manned by a team of 30 Arlington firefighters were used to blast away at the dangerous debris that was clinging to the mechanism supporting the retractable roof.

"When you get 60 degree water on ice you can melt ice," Chief Crowson said. "They are up there working diligently."

Late Saturday afternoon, a team of workers manually chopped away at subborn chunks, sending them skittering to the edge of the colossal structure.

The NFL closed all but one enclosed entrance point into the $1.15 billion sports palace as a precaution.

Fans flocking to the game stopped to take photos of the dome that's making news all over the world.

"People did get hurt," said Packers fan Pat Murphy. "They did take care of it, God bless them, but that seems a little dangerous to me."

But Murphy said he's not afraid to get near the world's largest domed building. "As soon as these guys finish it up today and this hot sun will melt it all away, it'll be perfect for game time."

Safety is such a concern at the Super Bowl venue that police from all across North Texas are helping their Arlington colleagues patrol the area. Most federal agencies are playing a role as well.

The scene is dramatically different than your average Cowboys game, and if you're lucky enough to go to the game, get ready to wait.

"Into the stadium, the secure area around the stadium, you'll be going through metal detectors. There'll be bag checks," said Arlington police spokeswoman Tiara Ellis Richard. "It's similar to what you'd experience going to the airport, so just be prepared for that enhahced security to enter the stadium area."

Workers were already shutting down streets, leading to massive congestion on the eve of the game.

The Texas Department of Transportation employed plows to clear any remaining snow and ice from roads surrounding the stadium, hoping to keep it from melting and then re-freezing when the temperatures drop after dark.

E-mail greaves@wfaa.com and rlopez@wfaa.com

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