Last updated: December 29. 2013 12:36PM - 15613 Views
Staff Report

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GREENVILLE - Fire crews battled a blaze at the Darke County Fairgrounds Friday evening, which caused heavy damage to two iconic fair buildings.

The fire lit up both the the Beef Palace and Dairy Palace buildings, while spreading to other nearby smaller structures. The roof collapsed on the north side Cow Palace which is constructed of concrete block and metal seam roofing.

Eleven fire companies responded to the scene as well as five medical units. In addition to the City of Greenville Fire Department, responding units included Greenville Township Fire, Liberty Township Fire, New Madison Fire, Union City Fire, Arcanum Fire, Union City Rescue, Greenville Township Rescue, and Arcanum Rescue. Units from Ansonia Fire and Versailles Fire were manning the Greenville Fire Station in the event of another fire call within the city.

“Firefighters employed defensive firefighting operations due to the extent of the fire and the potential for collapse of the bowstring truss roof structure. The fire companies’ crews were quickly able to get the fire under control and keep it from spreading to other nearby buildings. The wooden roof structure of the building was the main source of combustible materials which partially collapsed during the firefighting operations,” stated a release from the Greenville Fire Department.

The total damage is still under evaluation, however initial estimates indicate the majority of damage was contained to the Beef Palace and Dairy Palace. The buildings are connected in the center of their structures, which was affected as well.

“It’s probably over a million dollars worth of damage, but it could’ve been a lot worse had there been a major event going on or it it occurred at another property location,” said Darke County Fair Manager Daryl Riffle. “It’s bad, but we’re glad no one was hurt, and we’ll regroup, rebound, and make sure that there are beef cattle and dairy cows at the 2014 fair somehow. The show will go on.”

Within the two buildings, the fair board stored various equipment, including gating, pens and three passenger shuttles. In addition to the fairground’s equipment, several local businesses and organizations stored their equipment in trailers at the location, including the Darke County Parks District, Greg Peck Sound Systems and the Colavita Bicycle Club.

According to Riffle, the contractual arrangement specifies that the contractors store their possessions at their own risk, and their insurance is responsible in the event of item damages while in storage.

The Darke County Agricultural Board is in the process of notifying their respective insurance agencies and carriers and intend to determine future outcomes once they have more information.

“We’ll continue to evaluate it at future board meetings, and we’ll figure out what we need to with that area,” said Riffle.

However in less than 24 hours, Riffle had already received an outpouring of support from the Darke County community and beyond, rallying behind the Greenville landmark.

“We’re just very fortunate at a time like this that the response and support is overwhelming,” he said. “We are much appreciative of that.”

Riffle had already been contacted by several other counties fair board members who offered to lend their assistance if needed.

On Saturday afternoon, Riffle commended the local fire departments for their fast response and containment of the fire to only the two buildings, as the Swine Barn and Cattle Show Arena sat very close to the open flames, and were saved in the process.

During Friday night’s fire, at least one firefighter was transported to the hospital from smoke inhalation.

The Ohio Fire Marshall’s Office, Greenville Fire Department and Greenville Police Department are currently conducting a joint investigation to determine the cause of Friday’s fire, and will release a statement after they have concluded their findings.

The fair board has a regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, where they hope to have more information and determine future options.

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