A fire late Sunday gutted one of the oldest buildings on the grounds of the Washington State Fair in Puyallup, forcing the evacuation of all the animals in the petting farm just hours after the Spring Fair ended.
The blaze started just before midnight inside Sales Family Food Stand and quickly spread to the Evergreen Hall, which housed a petting farm and displayed science projects for the Future Farmers of America.
A hot water tank inside the food stand caught fire and employees tried to douse flames with several fire extinguishers but were unsuccessful. They retreated and called 911.
More than two dozen Central Pierce Fire & Rescue personnel responded and found the building engulfed. A second alarm was called and crews focused on spraying down the back end of Evergreen Hall where 50 animals were kept.
“We had no opportunity to go inside the building,” assistant chief Ed Hrivnak said. “The fire had already taken over the Evergreen Hall.”
After about 90 minutes, firefighters coordinated with five fair employees to begin moving out the sheep, alpacas, goats, chickens, turkeys, pigs, rabbits, birds and a miniature donkey.
The animals were mostly calm as they were walked to an adjacent barn and locked in pens until a veterinarian arrived to check them out and treat them for smoke inhalation.
One piglet died and a goat was said to have developed a cough.
The other animals were in good condition and were taken home Monday afternoon by their handlers. Most will return soon because they are part of the fair’s traveling farm, which visits schools in the area.
Evergreen Hall is one of the oldest buildings on the fairgrounds and was remodeled last year to house the agriculture and floral departments at last fall’s Washington State Fair.
The 27,505-square-foot building is a total loss. An estimate of damages was not available Monday.
Fair spokeswoman Karen LaFlamme said the building will likely be razed but it will not impede this year’s State Fair, which kicks off Sept. 5 and is one of the largest in the nation.
The horticulture and agriculture displays might be hosted in a tent this year.
“It’s still too early to determine exactly what we’ll be doing, but they’ll definitely be here,” LaFlamme said.
The future remains unknown for the Sales Family Food Stand, which has been operated since the 1920s by the same family. They are known for their krusty pup corndogs and onion burgers.
The Spring Fair ran from Thursday to Sunday and attracted more than 100,000 people.Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653