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Fire engulfs, destroys barn at St. Joseph County fairgrounds

Firefighters work to put out a fire that occurred at Barn 42 on the St. Joseph County fairgrounds Saturday afternoon. (COMMERCIAL-NEWS | ROBERT TOMLINSON)

By Robert Tomlinson
News Director

CENTREVILLE — A fire erupted at a barn on the St. Joseph County fairgrounds in Centreville Saturday afternoon, causing the barn to be destroyed.

According to the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department, firefighters and police were called out just after 4 p.m. to an active fire at Barn 42 on the fairgrounds. Multiple fire departments, including Centreville Fire Department, Three Rivers Fire Department, Fabius-Park Fire Department, Colon Fire Department, Mendon Fire Department, Tri-Township Fire Department, and Burr Oak Fire Department, responded to the fire.

The fire burned down a vast amount of the barn itself, which houses multiple vendors during county fair week. Around 6:30 p.m., excavators came in after the vast majority of the fire was put out to bring down the remainder of the building that had not been burned up. The fire was contained to just the one barn.

According to a statement on Facebook from the St. Joseph County Grange Fair, the fairgrounds were evacuated and no one was injured in the fire.

In a statement Sunday, Fair Manager Christina Yunker said the fairgrounds have been closed temporarily until all inspections have been completed and it is deemed safe to re-enter. Electricity on the fairgrounds was cut due to the fire, and they are working to restore power. The fair board will also be assessing surrounding barns and trees for structural integrity “to ensure the safety of everyone who visits the fairgrounds.”

Witnesses the Commercial-News talked to about the fire described seeing thick black smoke from the fire in different places in Centreville, and could be seen for miles. A couple of witnesses who lived near the fire told the Commercial-News they heard explosions while the fire was going.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown and under investigation. It is not known for certain if there was anything stored in the barn at the time of the fire. Yunker, in her statement, said that while winter storage for items stored directly with the fair was completed, the fair partners with others who rent the barns for storage, and would not comment on any stored items.

Yunker also stated that the fair has no plans to cancel or reschedule the recycling event scheduled for May 2 at the fairgrounds, and that the fair as a whole for the year “will go on.”

This story will be updated with more information once we learn more.

Robert Tomlinson can be reached at 279-7488 or

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